Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mr and Mrs Tom Thumb

When I inherited my aunt's photo albums, one of the little photo cards in the back of the book was the following one:
Sorry it's a bit crooked - didn't realize it until after I had scanned it and put it back in the archive box.

I recall looking at this and somehow wondering if the Tom Thumbs (actually Charles Stratton and Lavinia Warren Bump) were long distance relatives of mine.

However a bit of research, showed that this was photo card purchased for 25 cents.  They were much like modern postcards, you might mail off to a friend.  In this case you had probably visited PT Barnum's Museum in New York, and this was one of your souvenirs.

A few weeks back, I came across the book in our local library, The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb, by Melanie Benjamin.  Always the eclectic reader, I signed the book out.  The Missus read it first and quite enjoyed it.  I finally got around to it this past week.  It's an interesting account of the life of a 'perfect miniature specimen of womanhood' in the mid nineteenth century.  Lavinia Warren Bump was only two foot, eight inches tall, but led a rather exciting life, exhibiting herself amid PT Barnum's human novelty show.

What I did find a bit distracting about this, it is one of those books that falls in the category 'historical fiction.'  Yes there is truth there, but it has been so embellished, one really is not sure what to take away as fact, and what to discard as fiction.  Benjamin admits she has taken licence in creating the character of Vinnie Warren.  She has researched first hand some primary documents, but admits that Warren did not record much in the way of emotion or feelings - that is where the fictionalizing comes in.

But before I get too critical - it is a good read, a insightful look at life a 150 years ago, through the eyes of someone who was regarded as a 'freak of nature', a human oddity, who lived life as best she could in a harsh world.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.


  1. I for one like the slant on the picture, it adds to the interest!!!

    What a wonderful story so well told. I bet the book is a most interesting read no matter how embellished. 'Wouldn't be the first book I've waded between the lines so to speak!

    God bless ya and have a remarkable day my friend!!! :o)

  2. I am pretty sure that most biographies are embellished with half truths. What the heck though, if it is a good read.

    It was nice to see you back on Blogger.


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