The Wonders: The Extraordinary Performers Who Transformed the Victorian Age (Hardcover)

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$27.95
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(History - U.S. 19TH Century)

Staff Reviews


The freak flag flew high throughout the Victorian Age: the Queen herself was enthralled by General Tom Thumb. Meanwhile, the Siamese Twins, the Bearded Lady, giants, and other unusual personages were paraded by the likes of P.T. Barnum, and carnivals, sideshows, and midways thronged with spectators. Woolf strips away the bluster to reveal authentic people trapped in alarming bodies, who ought to be remembered not as freaks, but wonders. — Mike Hare

Description


On March 23, 1844, General Tom Thumb, just 25 inches tall, entered the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace and bowed low to Queen Victoria. On both sides of the Atlantic, this meeting marked a tipping point in the nineteenth century, and the age of the freak was born.

Bewitching all levels of society, it was a world of curiosities and astonishing spectacle--of dwarfs, giants, bearded ladies, Siamese twins, and swaggering showmen. But the real stories--human dramas that so often eclipsed the fantasy presented on the stage--of the performing men, women and children, have been forgotten or marginalized in the histories of the very people who exploited them.

In this richly evocative account, John Woolf uses a wealth of recently discovered material to bring to life the sometimes tragic, sometimes triumphant, always extraordinary stories of people who used their (dis)abilities and difference to become some of the first international celebrities.

Through their lives we discover afresh some of the great transformations of the age: the birth of show business, of celebrity, of advertising, and of "alternative facts" while also exploring the tensions between the power of fame, the impact of exploitation, and our fascination with "otherness."



Product Details
ISBN: 9781643132204
ISBN-10: 1643132202
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication Date: November 5th, 2019
Pages: 336
Language: English
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