Mary Ann Bevan

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Mary Ann Bevan
Mary Ann Bevan.jpg
Born
Mary Ann Webster

(1874-12-20)20 December 1874
Plaistow, Essex, England
Died26 December 1933(1933-12-26) (aged 59)
Resting placeBrockley Cemetery, London, England
NationalityEnglish
OccupationNurse
Spouse(s)
Thomas Bevan
(m. 1903; died 1914)
Children4

Mary Ann Bevan (20 December 1874 – 26 December 1933) was an English woman who, after developing acromegaly, toured the sideshow circuit as "the ugliest woman in the world."[1]

Early years[edit]

Mary Ann Bevan was one of eight children born into a working class family in Plaistow, Newham, London. She later became a nurse. In 1903 she married Thomas Bevan with whom she would have four children. Thomas Bevan died suddenly in 1914.[2]

Sideshow career[edit]

Bevan started exhibiting the symptoms of acromegaly soon after she was married, around the age of 32.[3] She began to suffer from abnormal growth and facial distortion, which led to her "homely" appearance, along with severe headaches and fading eyesight. After the death of her husband in 1914, she no longer had the income to support herself and her four children. Bevan decided to capitalize on her appearance and entered a "Homeliest Woman" contest which she lost.[2]

In 1920, she was hired by Sam Gumpertz to appear in Coney Island's Dreamland sideshow, a form of freak show, where she would spend most of the remainder of her life. She also made appearances at the World's Fair for the Ringling Brothers Circus until her death.[1]

Legacy[edit]

In the early 2000s, Bevan's image was used on a birthday card in the United Kingdom made by Hallmark Cards. The card made reference to the dating show Blind Date. A complaint was made by a Dutch doctor that it was disrespectful to a woman who had become deformed as the result of a disease. Hallmark decided that it was indeed inappropriate and agreed to stop distribution of the card.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b National Fairground Archive. "Extracts from World's Fair, 1931-1940: Death of the World's Ugliest Woman Archived 11 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine.". Accessed 22 August 2007.
  2. ^ a b Hartzman, Marc (2006). American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History's Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers. Penguin. p. 121. ISBN 1-585-42530-3.
  3. ^ American Philosophical Society. 6 August 1924. "Mary Bevan and her children". Accessed 22 August 2007.
  4. ^ Danzig, Jon. British Medical Journal. 4 November 2006. "Doctor protests at greeting card manufacturer making fun of woman with acromegaly".

External links[edit]