This unfortunate soul was Joseph Merrick, better known as “The Elephant Man”
He had the misfortune of being horribly physically deformed in Victorian England. He could find no employment, and was rejected by his father and stepmother after his mother died. But all was not lost. Because in that less sensitive age, people would pay good money just to come and look at him. He became a sideshow freak. He was not alone. There were the original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng.
My wife has a blog of her own (http://tracyloveshistory.wordpress.com/). Instead of dealing with the broad sweeps of history, like the world wars, or colonialism, she tends to focus on little details that bring history alive, like what underwear the Victorians wore, or what a filthy old pervert Samuel Pepys was.
I’ve really been battling to get started on a post I wanted to do about wildlife the other day. Every time I sit down and start writing, I get bogged down in drifts of facts and figures that anyone can look up on Wikipedia. By the time I get to the interesting parts, I’m two pages in, and the only person still reading would be the one you don’t want to end up next to at dinner parties. You know the one; after waiting just long enough to build up a truly awkward silence, he will turn, look you not-quite-straight in the eye, fix you with a panicked grin and ask “Do you know how many teeth an otter has got?” I’ve forgotten how to say anything about something that really interests me. I blame television. Continue reading →