Andrew Lycett

Amusing Queen Victoria

The young queen was enchanted with the American dwarf Tom Thumb and later gave the royal seal of approval to the display of fairground freaks

The American dwarf ‘General’ Tom Thumb is only mentioned once in Lee Jackson’s encyclopaedic survey of Victorian mass entertainment, and then as an example of an attraction at the rebuilt Crystal Palace in Sydenham in 1864. But he is the star of John Woolf’s breezy personality-driven history of the ‘freak’ show, an intriguing sub-set of that wider field of leisure activity.

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