The Life Of Mary Ann Bevan- World’s Ugliest Woman

The lengths to which a mother will go to care of her children are unimaginable. Mary Ann Bevan, for one, was a living example.

Mary wondered how she would feed her four children after she was widowed. She was determined to do anything for them, which led to her being cast as the “world’s ugliest woman” in a freak show.

This is the true story of her life, which has been kept secret for decades.

She worked as a nurse

Mary was born in Plaistow, east London, in December 1874, to a poor family of eight children. She had always been a fighter, and as a result, she pushed her way out of poverty to pursue a career as a nurse.

Before and After picture

She married Thomas Bevan at the age of 29 and had four children with him.

Early photographs of Mary Ann show a pretty brunette with delicate features. She was not always an ugly woman.

The Disease

But unfortunately, her beauty didn’t last for long. Her appearance was drastically changed due to acromegaly, a disorder caused by the body producing too much growth hormone.

The disorder can cause a person’s hands and feet to become larger. It can also alter the form of the face, and Mary Ann’s face grew larger and more masculine as a result. It is believed to be an excruciatingly painful disorder, with the bones and tissues rapidly growing in size.

Her physical condition elicited sarcastic comments on the street. When her husband Thomas died 11 years after they married, things got even worse. She was helpless, and she did everything she could to make a living and maintain a roof over their heads – but her efforts were in vain as her appearance made finding job very difficult.

Venturing Into Show Business

She came across an advertising in the newspaper one day while searching the newspapers: “Wanted: Ugliest woman. Nothing repulsive, maimed or disfigured. Good pay guaranteed, and long engagement for successful applicant. Send recent photograph.

Mary Ann sent in a recent photograph without hesitation, and it quickly caught the attention of Claude Bartram (the European agent for the American circus Barnum & Bailey).

Mary, on the other hand, was first completely against the idea of putting herself on display since she was timid and didn’t want to be separated from her children. Her family, on the other hand, was in jeopardy. They were to pay her £10 a week for a year, as well as travel expenses and all proceeds from the sale of picture postcards of herself. She hesitated but finally agreed.

She began with a tour of Hampshire, but she was so successful that she was offered a job by P.T. Barnum, the circus magnate represented by Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman, and so she sailed from Southampton to New York in 1920. When Mary first came in the United States, she was featured on the front pages of every New York newspaper, where she was dubbed “The Ugliest Woman on Earth.”

For a long time, her popularity grew, and she eventually became the show’s headliner, outshining bearded ladies, conjoined twins, undersized people, giants, and those with physical disabilities.

Someone spoke up

Someone, however, was sensible enough to speak up and inform the public of her condition. Harvey Cushing, the era’s top neurosurgeon, wrote a letter to Time magazine in 1927, expressing his displeasure at the publication’s mockery of his patient’s ugliness.

Harvey Cushing, a renowned neurosurgeon

Being a physician, I do not like to feel that Time can be frivolous over the tragedies of disease,” he wrote.

Despite Harvey’s objections the show went on. In the next two years, Mary is said to have earned £20,000 (about £500,000 today).

This cash was enough to send her four children to boarding school, and while she missed them dearly, she wrote to them on a regular basis, and knowing that their futures were safe helped her push through the insults.

How It Ended

Mary returned to Europe after a few years in 1925 to participate in a Paris exhibition, but she spent the rest of her life in the Coney Island Dreamland Show. She allegedly had a serious drinking problem in her latter years and lost a large portion of her income due to poor investments. In 1933, she passed away.

As per her dying wish, she is buried today at the Ladywell and Brockley Cemetery in South London.

These days, acromegaly is a seen as a medical condition which is treatable and manageable.

References:

The above is another touching story that depicts the extent mothers go to care for their children. Similarly, Emma Schol had 93 percent of her body burnt while trying to save her children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.