Music sheet cover
'Mr Gorilla, The Lion of the Season'
Designed by Alfred Concanen, printed by Stannard and Dixon
Mid to late 19th century
Museum no. S.676:1-2012
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This song, sung by Howard Paul in one of his popular entertainments, probably in the early 1870s, satirised the exploits of African explorer Paul Du Chaillu. The song begins with the lines 'Ladies and gentlemen how do you do, I am the gorilla of Monsieur Chaillu'. Paul Chaillu was probably the first white man to see a gorilla. In his 1859 book Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa he tells the story of his travels, including chasing the gorilla, and cannibal tribes which filed their teeth to keep them sharp. He claimed to have travelled 8,000 miles on foot during his journey. He shot and stuffed 2,000 birds and brought back the first specimen gorilla. However people ridiculed his achievements and coined the phrase 'Du Chaillu' , referring to someone who would tell wild stories. Nevertheless, Chaillu's expedition was defended by the Royal Geographic society of Great Britain. It is thought that Chaillu was the inspiration for the book Tarzan of the Apes written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.