Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the by Eric D. Lehman

By Eric D. Lehman

When P. T. Barnum met twenty-five-inch-tall Charles Stratton at a Bridgeport, Connecticut inn in 1843, some of the most vital partnerships in leisure background used to be born. With Barnum’s promotional abilities and the miniature Stratton’s comedic abilities, they charmed a Who’s Who of the nineteenth century, from Queen Victoria to Charles Dickens to Abraham Lincoln. cherished world wide as “General Tom Thumb,” Stratton performed to sold-out exhibits for nearly 40 years. From his days as a precocious baby superstar to his tragic early loss of life, Becoming Tom Thumb tells the total tale of this iconic determine for the 1st time. It information his triumphs at the big apple level, his epic superstar marriage ceremony, and his around-the-world journey, drawing on newly on hand fundamental resources and interviews. From the mansions of Paris to the deserts of Australia, Stratton’s distinct model of american comedy not just earned him the accolades of hundreds of thousands of fanatics, it helped movement little humans out of the part exhibit and into the lime light.

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Additional resources for Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity

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Courtesy of the University of Bridgeport Archives. 8 prologue the sight of Charles being driven around London in this tiny carriage sent the English people into an uncharacteristic frenzy. In a letter to a friend the following year, Barnum put it succinctly: “The fact is no man can live after seeing his little Equippage, without seeing the General himself, and after seeing him they must talk about him. ”25 Victoria herself was still talking about her encounters with the American prodigy a year later, when Edward Everett visited her at Windsor Castle.

All this was a tribute to the tiny but fertile brain that was being cultivated to its full capacity. It was startling even to Barnum that such a young boy could learn so much, and so quickly. “He was an apt pupil with a great deal of native talent, and a keen sense of the ludicrous. ” Photo by Paul Mutino. Collection of The Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, Connecticut. ”32 Other accounts support Barnum’s analysis. That may be the most remarkable fact of his career: no one ever reported that Charles developed an ego to match his fame.

The oldest portrait photograph of a person known to exist is only three years older than this one. Collection of The Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, Connecticut. 26 At the American Museum whenever he reported to his friends in letters that he had not. ” 19 For those who saw Charles up close, there was no question as to his remarkably small size. However, during performances on stage, an unfortunate lack of scale was created. James White Nichols mentioned this illusion, and Barnum’s solution, saying: “When standing alone on his platform, it was remarked by many, he did not look so small as they had anticipated.

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