The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

'Blind Tom' Wiggins

'Blind Tom' Wiggins

Born into slavery in 1849, 'Blind Tom' Wiggins was an African American autistic savant with a prodigious talent for playing the piano. Although his vocabulary was only about 100 words, eventually he learned perhaps 7,000 pieces of music, mainly from classical composers. In 1866, at the age of 16, he went on a world tour, first appearing in London in July of that year. According to an advertisement which appeared in the Times, 'The extraordinary success which attended the private soirée of the Negro Boy pianist, Blind Tom, at the Queen's Consort Rooms, Hanover Square, on Wednesday evening last, has induced his guardians to give a few public performances, prior to the close of the London season, of which due notice will be given' (21 July 1866). He died in 1908 in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Photographed by Naudin of Brompton Road, London.

Entered at Stationers' Hall [part of the copyrighting process] on 1 August 1866 by Antoine Naudin of 124, Brompton Road, London.

Code: 122011
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