By Eric D. Lehman
When P. T. Barnum met twenty-five-inch-tall Charles Stratton at a Bridgeport, Connecticut resort in 1843, probably the most vital partnerships in leisure heritage 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. loved all over the world as “General Tom Thumb,” Stratton performed to sold-out exhibits for nearly 40 years. From his days as a precocious baby celebrity to his tragic early demise, Becoming Tom Thumb tells the whole tale of this iconic determine for the 1st time. It info his triumphs at the manhattan level, his epic famous person marriage ceremony, and his around-the-world journey, drawing on newly to be had fundamental assets and interviews. From the mansions of Paris to the deserts of Australia, Stratton’s targeted model of american comedy not just earned him the accolades of hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts, it helped circulate little humans out of the aspect exhibit and into the lime light.
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Additional info for Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity
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. But not everything Charles learned from his experience with Barnum was positive.
When he became the darling celebrity of the English crown, Charles Stratton was barely six years old. 9 The Boy from Bridgeport W hen Charles Stratton was born in 1838, Bridgeport, Connecticut had been an official reality for less than two years. Wedged between the successful colonial boroughs of Fairfield and Stratford, the small village of Stratfield had hugged the shore of a shallow bay, hemmed in by a triangular island and a reef. It was not nearly as desirable for large ships as the protected bays elsewhere along the coast of Long Island Sound, and boasted no other obvious geographical advantages.
An 1843 quote by Dr. J. V. C. Smith in the Massachusetts Medical Journal is also often quoted to support this: “He appears now as fully developed as he ever will be. Of all dwarfs we have examined, this excels the whole in littleness. Properly speaking he is not a dwarf, as there is nothing dwarfish in his appearance—he is a perfect man in miniature . . ”22 This focus on “proportion,” made much of in the early years as a promotional strategy, was taken seriously by scientists of the day. Charles’s obvious intelligence was also a direct challenge to craniometry, a popular “science” at the time.