William Geil Draws Eight Thousand
William Geil was an American minister, self-proclaimed “world’s greatest explorer,” and Lyceum lecturer. He drew 8,000 men to a lecture given in Australia. Although it’s not clear that this particular lecture was illustrated, Geil used this picture of it to promote his lantern shows. The audience size is certainly an example of the world-wide interest that illustrated lecturers could generate.
Geil was an expert on China, and the first westerner to travel the entire length of the Great Wall. China’s exotic culture was a natural for lantern shows, as in the slide of men sawing in the street. See a movie about Geil’s China explorations here.
Geil’s lecture, A Yankee in Pygmy Land, was based on four years living with the Pygmies, and was turned into a book illustrated with his slide images. Such multi-media presentations of the experiences of major lecturers was common.