Mary Ann Bevan

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Mary Ann Bevan
Mary Ann Bevan.jpg
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
Thomas Bevan
(m. 1903; died 1914)

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 won.[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 for the Ringling Brothers Circus until her death.[1][failed verification] Mary Ann Bevan is buried in the Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries.


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]


  1. ^ a b "National Fairground Archive - Extracts from World's Fair, 1931-1940". The University of Sheffield. 2007. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  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".

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