The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie’’ Warren Bump is only 32 inches tall, but she lives an enormous life, thanks to her feisty and determined personality. Her true story brilliantly unfolds with author Melanie Benjamin’s extensive research and compelling writing in “The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb’’.
Born in 1841, Vinnie decides she isn’t content to live a sedentary life on her family’s Massachusetts farm. When she has the opportunity to join a traveling riverboat show, she leaves behind her protective family, and learns the painful lesson that she is expected to be part of the freak exhibit. She proves she is more than an oddity, and strives to present herself as a refined little lady with a lovely singing voice.
When the Civil War breaks out and the riverboat is overtaken by southern confederates, Vinnie flees to her family home. She soon grows restless, and finds she misses the stage life. She eventually writes to P.T. Barnum, whose American Museum in New York City is a sensation.
Barnum takes Vinnie under his wing, and introduces her to another little person, Charles Stratton, whose stage name is General Tom Thumb. The pair eventually marries and become a worldwide sensation, thanks to Barnum’s showmanship. But their notoriety ends up causing great heartache, when her even smaller sister, Minnie, is exposed to the public spotlight.
The author incorporates excerpts from newspaper articles between each chapter, which provides an interesting backdrop to Vinnie’s experiences and sheds light on America’s Gilded Age of rapid expansion after the Civil War. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this tiny but mighty heroine.