The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
touches on many topics - P.T. Barnum's circus, the American Civil War, the challenges of physical limitations, fame - but fundamentally it is one woman's story. It is easy to forget that the protagonist, Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump (aka Vinnie), stands only 32 inches tall because her words and actions are so bold. She narrates her autobiography in a commanding, calm tone, and her voice is both distinct and unique to the period, relying on particular quips and turns of phrase to anchor the reader in the nineteenth century.
Melanie Benjamin confronts Vinnie's discomfort with being showcased for her physical limitations in a way that allows readers to witness the challenge of being different, not simply being short. Vinnie's frustration will speak to anyone who has at one time felt singled out due to their appearance, height, weight,...
Beyond the Book
Though she led an extraordinary and highly public life, few people today are familiar with the main character of Melanie Benjamin's The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
In 1841, Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Warren Bump was born in Middleboro, Massachusetts to a long-time well-respected New England family whose lineage can, in part, be traced back to five Mayflower passengers. The descendants of John Billington, Francis Cooke, Edward Doty, Stephen Hopkins, and Richard Warren intermarried many times over the decades - a fact that may have been the source of Vinnie's genetic disorder.