Another fantastic round of "AskMe, Name That Book!" Although I cannot remember the title, author/editor, or what the cover looked like at all, I do remember a great deal of detail about what is contained therein. The book I am looking for gave brief, factual descriptions and synopses of the lives of people who were commonly referred to/treated as 'sideshow freaks' in the late 19th/early 20th century, many of whom were also circus performers with P.T. Barnum.
Along with The Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were
, the book I am trying to find basically defined my childhood, blew the doors off of my already-ridiculous imagination, and led to a lifelong obsession with all things generally considered strange, unusual, morbid, and/or off-putting (think: I want to get married at the Mutter Museum)
. It took what many would consider an odd, uncomfortable, or even humorous subject and treated it with total respect. The book is not directly related to Tod Browning's 1932 movie Freaks
, but it does feature many of the same people.
* Not a short book at all, maybe 150-200 pages, plus photos?
* Divided into chapters based on the "type" of "freak" -- unusually hairy people, unusually tall/short people, etc.
* I was reading a not-nearly-new copy in the mid-1980s, so it was probably published more than 30 years ago
* All photos were in black and white
* People who were definitely featured/profiled in the book: Chang and Eng Bunker
, Jojo the Dog-Faced Boy
, Prince Randian
, Zip the Pinhead
, Daisy and Violet Hilton
, Lucia Zarate
, General Tom Thumb
and Lavinia Warren
, Joseph Merrick
, Johnny Eck
, Robert Wadlow
-- and that's just off the top of my head
* Included a gruesome and depressing story about how Patrick Cotter O'Brien
(a/k/a the Irish Giant) made his friends swear not to sell his body after his death, for fear he would be put on display, but someone paid someone off and his body ended up being exhumed from its giant lead casket, boiled to take the flesh off, and his skeleton was put on display anyway
It's been driving me mad for decades that I remember an incredible amount of detail from the book's contents -- like the story of Chang and Eng doing tumbling exercises to lengthen the band of increasingly elastic connective tissue that conjoined them, and the aforementioned Irish Giant tale -- but not the title. All of my searches over the intervening decades have been fruitless. I would just love to track down a copy and re-experience the greatness once more.
Anyone who is able to identify this book with these vague details gets my eternal love and devotion. Thank you!