One of the favorite entertainments of the Victorian era is the so-called "freak show", in which dwarfs, giants and people with any physical disabilities took part. The industry of such shows was actively adapting to the needs of the public and offering all the new curiosities. The most popular were artists who, despite their peculiarities, could live a full life: get an education, work, get married and get married … One of these weddings became a real sensation in New York!
Lavinia Warren - almost the most famous artist of the 19th century freak show. Having a dwarf growth, she was at the same time a well-bred and educated girl. Lavinia was born in 1841 in the northeastern United States in the New England region to a wealthy and respected family. As a child, she was a well-fed baby and seemed to be bursting with health. True, when the baby stopped growing, the parents were seriously concerned about her health, went to the doctors and heard a disappointing diagnosis. We must pay tribute to Lavinia's parents, they did not change their attitude towards their daughter. The girl continued her studies and classes in the choir. When Lavinia grew up and became involved in the household, her parents built special stilts for her, which helped her to move around the kitchen comfortably. In addition, Lavinia even worked as a teacher for a while.
The turning point in the fate of Lavinia was a trip along the Mississippi River, where she went on vacation at the invitation of her cousin. The voyage brought together special artists, Lavinia came up with the creative pseudonym "Queen of the Lilliputians", and the girl decided to try herself in a new role. Lavinia danced, sang and made small talk. She often went on stage with Sylvia Hardy, a giant with whom she developed warm friendships. By the end of the summer, Lavinia was already bathed in glory.
In 1862, Lavinia met the impresario and showman Taylor Barnum, who became famous for his collaboration with non-standard artists. Frankly speaking, Barnum understood that for his "collection" there was just not enough charming lonely girl in which the whole male part of his troupe would fall in love.
The smartest guy turned out to be General Tom-Tam, one of Barnum's most famous circus performers. As soon as he met Lavinia, he promised himself to win the heart of this girl. Tom-Tam agreed with Barnum that he would play the role of "matchmaker", and for this he would receive the rights to publish any information about the wedding of the dwarfs. Barnum quickly realized how profitable such a deal was, and immediately began to advise Lavinia, praising Tom-Tum.
Tom-Tam proposed to Lavinia, and she agreed. The wedding ceremony was held at the Episcopal Church of New York, which is located on Broadway. The author of the bride's wedding dress was the designer Madame Demorest, the fashion guru of the Victorian era. The tiny outfit was shown for several weeks before the ceremony, as it was a real work of art.
More than 10 thousand guests expressed their desire to attend the event. Many of them have made a donation of $ 50. The wedding of the dwarfs became the event of the year, the newlyweds stood on the lid of the piano and received guests. The holiday was attended by journalists from such major publications as the Saturday Evening Post and the New York Times. Reports from the most unusual wedding in New York made headlines. The journalists were especially impressed by the gifts received by the couple on the occasion of the celebration: these are Tiffany jewelry, a miniature billiard table, and even a tiny carriage personally from Queen Victoria.
The wedding story became a real outlet during the Civil War, for the first time in three years, good news was placed on the front page of newspapers. Interestingly, after the wedding, Barnum offered Lavinia a fee of five thousand dollars (today this amount is about 116 thousand dollars) so that she would perform in his circus over the next months. Barnum was sure that she would gladly agree, because the dwarfs did not have many opportunities to get a good job in life. However, Lavinia refused such a tempting offer.
Even President Lincoln showed a desire to get to know a pair of midgets better, he invited the couple to a reception at the White House. True, he allowed himself a few caustic jokes about the short stature of the guests, and Lavinia behaved emphatically cold.
Lavinia and Tom-Tam lived happily together for 20 years. They were well provided for, toured the world, did not deny themselves the pleasure of being in high society, ordering outfits for themselves from famous designers. In 1833, Tom-Tam died, Lavinia at some point found herself on the verge of poverty, because she did not know how to earn money. However, two years later, she met the Italian brothers-Lilliputians - Primo Magri and Giuseppe.
She married one of them, and all three organized opera performances that were very popular with audiences.
In 1919, Lavinia died, at her request, she was buried next to her first husband. There is a monument on their grave - a full-length figure of Tom-Tama, his full name and the modest signature "His wife" appear.
General Tom-Tam achieved fame the world's most famous dwarf, loved on both sides of the ocean … And, we must admit, there was a reason!