Another Barnum headliner was Lavinia Warren, the "Little Queen of Beauty"
The wedding of Lavinia Warren and "General Tom Thumb" (Charles Stratton) was one of the notable events of 1863. At left is the carte de visite Matthew Brady made for the pair. Both had starred in P. T. Barnum's "American Museum." You can find an account of the carte de visite at the Smithsonian site dedicated to Brady. The Barnum Museum's "Cast of Characters" site contains brief biographical sketches of both Lavinia and Charles Stratton (aka Tom Thumb).
Harper's Weekly described Warren as follows:
"Little People," January 31, 1863
[from The Lounger column]
P. 67: When paragraphs appeared in the newspapers stating that a wonderful little lady was holding court at the St. Nicholas Hotel, and that she was all that the most fastidious fancy could desire in a small woman, the thoughts of the sagacious instantly turned to [P.T. Barnum's] the American Museum. . . . Her name is Lavinia Warren. She is 21 years old, 32 inches high, and weighs 29 pounds. Unquestionably she is one of the most interesting of the many wonders of this kind which the Museum has offered to the public. General Tom Thumb and Commodore Nutt are henceforth not without hope. The poets of the press describe her faultless form, her winning voice, her sparkling dark eyes, her rich, dark, and waving hair, her exquisitely modeled neck and shoulders, her bust a sculptor's study(!), and her singular intelligence. If Bottom should stray into the American Museum he would be sure that he beheld Titania. In the words of one of the enthusiasts -- "What more could we desire?"
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper was equally taken with Lavinia Warren's "perfect" beauty and devoted a cover to her dressed for a variety of fashionable occasions. To see larger versions of the costumes, click on them. It, like Harper's Weekly and innumerable newspapers, also devoted much attention to Warren's marriage to "Tom Thumb." It was, Leslie's proclaimed, a "Fairy Wedding."
The use of a chair to show the tininess of the "Queen of Beauty" extended to some of Brady's wedding portraits:
This tradecard shows "Gen'l" Tom Thumb and "his Charming Wife" appearing before the "Crowned Heads of Europe." You can read about the card and about the careers of Lavinia and Charles Stratton here.
If "little people" were popular curiosities, so were those who were unusually large. The first national woman's rights convention (Worcester, 1850) was occasionally interrupted by music accompanying the exhibition of "the American fat girl" in a hall on the floor below. Here is a cartoon commenting on this fascination with size.
Like Jenny Lind, Lavinia Warren was one of the sensations of her age. Harper's Weekly proclaimed her perfect:
. . . she was all that the most fastidious fancy could desire in a small woman. . . . She is 21 years old, 32 inches high, and weighs 29 pounds. . . .The poets of the press describe her faultless form, her winning voice, her sparkling dark eyes, her rich, dark, and waving hair, her exquisitely modeled neck and shoulders, her bust a sculptor's study(!), and her singular intelligence.
The catalogue of her perfections is revealing. She had "a winning voice," a preresquite for perfection in the age of Jenny Lind, and "rich, dark, and waving hair" and "singular intelligence." But her "faultless form," spelled out as her "exquisitely modeled neck and shoulders," and her "bust" which merits an exclamation point, comes first.