The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Mrs Tom Thumb and 'her' baby

Mrs Tom Thumb and 'her' baby

A carte-de-visite portrait of Mrs Tom Thumb, known professionally before her marriage as Lavinia Warren.

On 10 February 1863, ‘The Little Queen of Beauty’ married international celebrity General Tom Thumb in a lavish ceremony at New York’s fashionable Grace Church. The two performers enjoyed a genuine romance, although their employer PT Barnum promoted their wedding to the hilt and milked it for every ounce of publicity. For weeks before the wedding, crowds of 20,000 or more paid to see the bride and her engagement ring. Takings topped $3000 a day. Barnum received 15,000 requests for the $75 tickets to the reception. On the day of the ceremony, crowds blocked Broadway for hours, and newspapers briefly forgot the Civil War to publish every detail of ‘The Fairy Wedding,’ including the guest list, which numbered many of New York’s most fashionable families, and their gifts. Barnum completed the wedding party with best man Commodore Nutt (George Washington Morrison Nutt, twenty-nine inches tall) and the maid of honour, Minnie Warren, Lavinia’s sister. For years the group toured the world, reaching destinations as far-flung as Japan, China, Australian and India.

The marriage produced one child, which unfortunately was not considered photogenic enough, so another infant was ‘borrowed’ for publicity shots. The real child, a daughter, in fact died in early infancy.

Photographed by the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company.


Code: 126652
  Back           Home Contact   
© Paul Frecker 2019