The Heartbreaking Tale Of Mary Ann Bevan, Known As The “Ugliest Woman in the World”

Gorgeous lady from England After being diagnosed with acromegaly at the beginning of the 20th century, Mary Ann Bevan was compelled to work in sideshows and circuses.

Mary Ann Bevan, sometimes referred to as the “Ugliest Woman in the World,” regularly performed at carnivals and other events to help her family financially.

Mary Ann Bevan wasn’t always viewed as being “ugly.”

Born in a London suburb in the late 1800s, she was pampered and looked like any other young woman.

When she was diagnosed with a rare deformity after reaching adulthood and having many children, everything changed.

In a matter of years, Bevan’s face, hands, and feet became permanently deformed, leaving her with little choice but to rely on her looks for financial support.

Mary Ann Bevan, one of the most tragic figures from the formerly bustling sideshow business, tells the story of how she got the nickname “Ugliest Woman in the World.”

Early Years of Mary Ann Bevan

Mary Ann Webster was born on December 20, 1874, in an expansive family on the outskirts of London.

Raised in the same manner as her siblings, she graduated from nursing school in 1894 and married Kentish farmer Thomas Bevan in 1903.

The Bevans’ marriage got off to a wonderful start when they had two healthy sons and two healthy daughters.

When Thomas unexpectedly died in 1914, Mary was left to raise their four tiny children on a meager wage.

She began exhibiting symptoms of acromegaly, a condition in which the pituitary gland secretes excessive amounts of growth hormone, after the death of her spouse.

Even though acromegaly is uncommon, it may presently be treated if caught in time.

Bevan’s look began to radically alter, but little could be done about it because of the medical constraints of the early 20th century.

A multitude of serious problems, such as renal problems, sleep apnea, and heart disease, can arise from amyelopathy.

Bevan’s condition resulted in her nose growing rapidly, her hands and feet ballooning out of proportion, and her forehead and lower jaw protruding.

Her looks altered and she struggled to get a job, so she had to take on a range of odd jobs to maintain her family.

Her look was permanently changed by the rare condition.

Bevan, a previous worker at the fairground, claimed that years before, a farmer she had worked for had told her that “all [she] was fit for [was] the ugly woman competition.”

Bevan followed the farmer’s advise and soon after entered and triumphed over 250 other competitors in the “Homeliest Woman” competition.

Her achievement caught the attention of sideshow owners, and she made the decision to take advantage of the situation for her children’s sake, as her doctor had warned her that things would only get worse.

She soon secured a reliable job as a performer at fairs all across the British Isles.

Bevan responded to an ad for the “ugliest woman” in a London newspaper in 1920. Nothing hideous, mutilated, or deformed. Long-term commitment and good compensation are assured for the chosen candidate. Send a current picture.

A British representative for Barnum and Bailey’s circus had placed the advertisement after observing that she possessed “what may sound like a paradox, the face of an ugly woman that was not unpleasant.”

Bevan made roughly $12 per postcard selling these kinds of cards at fairs.

After emailing the agency a picture he had taken especially for the occasion, Bevan received an invitation to join the sideshow at Coney Island’s Dreamland amusement park, which at the time was one of the most popular venues for sideshow performers.

Senator William H. Reynolds and sideshow operator Samuel W. Gumpertz, who later worked with Harry Houdini, came up with the concept for the performance.

She was a main attraction at several sideshows and carnivals, with characters like Jean Carroll the Tattooed Lady, Zip the “Pinhead,” and Lionel the Lion-Faced Man.

She was a free target for admiration at Dreamland, with her 154-pound frame, 5-foot-7 height, size 11 feet, and size 25 hands.

Bevan accepted the cruel punishment with grace. “Mechanically grinning, she put up picture postcards of herself for sale,” making enough money to support her and her kids.

As time went on, Mary Ann Bevan’s appeal only increased, and by the 1930s, she was a prominent act in the renowned Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus.

She earned £20,000 in just two years of performing in New York, or almost $1.6 million in 2022. She was able to fulfill her goal of supporting her kids as a result.

Mary Ann Bevan’s Last Hours

Bevan was a mainstay at the Dreamland carnival at Coney Island until her death in 1933.

Bevan found time for love and established friends both inside and outside of the sideshow industry. She was performing at Madison Square Garden in 1929 when she fell in love with Andrew, the giraffe keeper.

She even consented to get pampered, getting her face painted, her hair straightened, and a manicure and massage in a salon in New York City.

“The rouge and powder and the rest were as out of place on Mary Ann’s countenance as lace curtains on the portholes of a dreadnought,” some people maliciously insisted. But when Mary Ann saw her mirror, she just responded, “I guess I’ll be getting back to work.”

Bevan worked on Coney Island for the remainder of her life until her passing on December 26, 1933.

Her age was 59 years. She was buried in the southeast of the city’s Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery after having her remains flown back to England for the funeral.

The public mostly ignored Mary Ann Bevan until the early 2000s, when her image was used in jest on a Hallmark card.

The card was withdrawn after complaints were made that it would further humiliate her.

Please TELL your family and friends about this courageous woman!

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