Abstract

Obesity seems to have become prevalent in English society in the eighteenth century, likely as a result of changes in the country's diet such as an increasing consumption of sugar. With the greater incidence of corpulence in the population came more fat individuals on England's lucrative show circuit, joining the conjoined twins, hermaphrodites, dwarfs, giants, and individuals of different ethnicities who had peopled London's pubs, coffee houses, and exhibition halls for centuries. This article contextualizes historical corpulency in terms of early modern monstrosity and nineteenth-century freakery, with additional input from the modern Fat Studies and Disability Studies movements, in order to explore public consciousness about and fascination with particularly obese individuals, epitomized by the fattest men of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: the 616-pound (279 kg) Edward Bright and the 739-pound (335 kg) Daniel Lambert. Using a variety of source materials—newspaper articles, dieting pamphlets, medical and scientific essays, advertising leaflets and etchings, and popular histories about the lives of famous individuals—this essay argues that, though extremely corpulent individuals needed to exist in the first place in order to be incorporated into the show circuit, it was society's fascination with these new, unusual bodies that allowed them to rise into prominence as an entertainment feature in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England.


From time immemorial fat men and women have been the object of curiosity and the number who have exhibited themselves is incalculable. Nearly every circus and dime museum has its example, and some of the most famous have in this way been able to accumulate fortunes.

––Gould and Pyle, Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine 2

Writing at the tail-end of the nineteenth century, George Gould and Walter Pyle expressed what they thought to be a tautology: fat bodies are and always have been show-worthy. However, obese individuals did not regularly appear on England's exhibition circuit until the nineteenth century, lagging far behind the conjoined twins, hermaphrodites, dwarfs, giants, and individuals of different ethnicities who had peopled London's pubs, coffee houses, and exhibition halls for centuries. 3 Though fat people have indeed existed throughout history, obesity only seems to have become prevalent in English society in the eighteenth century, likely as a result of changes in the country's diet such as an increase in sugar consumption. With the greater incidence of corpulence in the population came more fat individuals willing to join the lucrative show circuit. Thus, a new category of unusually-shaped humans—the particularly corpulent—became an increasingly common feature of England's human exhibitions throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, eventually becoming a staple of sideshow fare.

The exhibition of monstrous births (a contemporary term used to describe deformed humans and animals) was both popular and profitable by the seventeenth century. 4 Over the next two centuries, "[t]he early itinerant monster-mongers who exhibited human oddities in taverns and the slightly more respectable performances in rented halls evolved … into institutionalized, permanent exhibitions of freaks in dime museums and later in circus sideshows, fairs, and amusement park midways." 5 Scholars have tended to examine unusual bodies within only one of these historical periods, with early modernists studying monstrosity in the context of religion, politics, or science 6 and nineteenth-century experts focusing on freakery (or show culture), 7 resulting in a theoretical lacuna between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, 8 the precise period when corpulent individuals were working their way onto the exhibition scene.

Examinations of historical obesity have likewise tended to focus on only one of these periods, with early modern analyses generally concentrating on medicine (causes of and cures for obesity), 9 and nineteenth- and twentieth-century studies often discussing specific corpulent individuals in passing in larger works on physically unusual humans or sideshow acts. 10 The Fat Studies discipline itself pays little attention to the fat experience prior to the twentieth century, instead primarily emphasizing modern activism. In one of the few studies about early modern corpulency that explicitly engages with Fat Studies, Elena Levy-Navarro points out that obesity is not a "natural, trans-historical construct, relevant for all times and places" but is rather defined by individual cultures. 11 Disability Studies has even less to say about historical obesity than does Fat Studies, though works examining disability in the past 12 are more prevalent than those interrogating the historical fat experience. In a modern context, both April Herndon and Laura Backstrom see connections between fatness and disability as socially-constructed categories, 13 though it is something of a grey area whether obesity should be legally classified as a disability. 14

The word "disability" has been in use since the sixteenth century, 15 but as David Turner points out, even in the eighteenth century, disability was "not yet seen as [a] fundamental categor[y] of identity that divided everyone according to … the presence or absence of an impairment [injury, illness, or old age] which affected their ability to participate on an equal basis with others." 16 Though the English fat men Edward Bright and Daniel Lambert had difficulty riding a horse, climbing stairs, and occasionally even breathing—a series of hardships that are definitely debilitating—they had more in common with other early modern monsters and nineteenth-century freaks than with more traditionally impaired individuals. In particular, physically unusual bodies (from dwarfs or conjoined twins to the extremely corpulent) were deemed worthy of being stared at, 17 likely due to a mixture of curiosity about and pity for such physically-unusual individuals. 18 Though fat people may have been stigmatized in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (see below for discussions of medicalization and mockery), they were not inherently disabled and, indeed, their abnormal bodies could be lucrative on the show circuit.

"[T]he common dimensions of mankind": Defining Corpulency

The modern medical community defines obesity in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI), a ratio of weight to height. 19 According to the BMI scale, a 5' tall individual, for example, will optimally weigh 97-128 pounds (44-58 kg at 152 cm) , while someone 6' tall should weigh 140-184 pounds (64-83 kg at 183 cm). Obesity is measured in three categories (designated as Class 1, 2, or 3), with an individual in Class 3 (sometimes also called "extremely" or "severely" obese) weighing over 204 pounds at 5' (93 kg at 152 cm) or 294 pounds at 6' (133 kg at 183cm) tall. 20 These heights and weights are directly comparable to the surgeon John Hutchinson's mid-nineteenth-century calculation of healthy mean weights for 2648 British men, 21 in which he determined that a 5'1" man averaged 120 pounds (54 kg at 155 cm) and a 6' man averaged 178 pounds (81 kg at 183 cm), numbers that fit right in the normal range of the BMI scale. 22

However, it is difficult to pin down a single definition of "obese" in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Harper's Weekly defined obesity subjectively, in terms of physical characteristics: "that state of fatty congestion when, without the individual being ill, the limbs or members increase gradually in size and lose their primitive form and beauty." 23 The physician Thomas Short provided a similar definition—"that gross Habit of Body which increases to a prodigious Bulk, as either to hinder, prejudice, or render the Performance of the Actions of Life uneasy or painful"—and added to it several physical limitations: "that Fatness which renders Motion or Action … troublesome, painful and uneasy … which is undeniably a morbid State." 24 The physician Malcolm Flemyng specifically classified this level of obesity as "a disease, as it in some measure obstructs the free exercise of the animal functions; and hath a tendency to shorten life, by paving the way to dangerous distempers." 25

In the descriptively-titled book Corpulence; or, Excess of Fat in the Human Body, the physician Thomas King Chambers compiled a list of 38 "Cases of Obese Persons" to the year 1850; of those above the age of 18, the lightest was a "Mrs. S…," who at 5'2" weighed 154 pounds (70 kg at 157 cm). 26 However, as the anonymous reviewer responding to William Banting's dieting pamphlet in Blackwood's Magazine "den[ied] that a man weighing but a trifle above fourteen stone [196 pounds or 89 kg] is entitled to call himself obese," 27 Chambers' characterization of a 150-pound woman as obese would clearly have been controversial. Like Chambers, the surgeon William Wadd's book Cursory Remarks on Corpulence; or Obesity Considered as a Disease detailed the cases of more than 80 fat individuals; the lightest adult included on his list was a "Mr. J," who weighed 252 pounds (114 kg) at age 18. 28 Thus, depending upon the source, 150 pounds may have been obese, 200 pounds may have been shy of the mark, or 250 pounds may have been the lowest weight worthy of mention. In most of these examples, as indeed is the case today, it was medical experts or social commentators who defined "obese," rather than the people whose bodies were being discussed; this tendency can particularly be seen in Banting's case, as Banting clearly viewed his own weight as an issue, but his anonymous reviewer disagreed, "deny[ing]" that Banting was "entitled" to characterize his own level of obesity.

Regardless of the disagreement over what precise weight constituted an obese body, these authors and their contemporaries clearly believed themselves in the midst of an obesity epidemic. 29 The physician Thomas Short, writing in 1727, proclaimed that "no Age did ever afford more Instances of Corpulency than our own." 30 Writing nearly a century later, William Wadd likewise asserted that the nineteenth-century "increase of wealth" had "increased the frequency of corpulence." 31 Michael Stolberg attributes a rise in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century weights to increased caloric availability: "in normal years many people, not only an affluent minority, had access to that small amount of extra food each day which is now thought to be sufficient to cause obesity in the long run." 32 More specifically, the rise in English weights can likely be pinned on the increased availability of high-calorie foods like sugar and white bread. In his extensive study of the origins, rise, and impacts of sugar in Western culture, Sidney Mintz asserts that English sugar consumption per capita, per annum increased from 4 pounds (2 kg) in 1700 to 18 pounds (8 kg) in 1800 to perhaps 50 pounds (23 kg) by around 1850. From "a luxury, a medicine, and a spice" in the sixteenth century, "sugar came to define English 'character'" over the next three hundred years. 33 Beyond sugar, Carole Shammas has demonstrated that the English diet as a whole was changing throughout the early modern period: "[b]rown bread, cheese, and beer gave way to the new drink [tea], its sweetener [sugar], and white wheat bread with butter." She emphasizes that these changes were occurring across the socio-economic spectrum by citing, for example, the increasing provision for butter, sugar, potatoes, and wheat (and consequent drop in less desirable grains) in poorhouse diets between 1570 and 1800. Significantly, she agrees with Mintz that "the unprecedented heavy use of sugar was by far the most important of the developments in these years." 34

Many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century experts also discussed the role that food played in weight gain or loss. The dieter William Banting, for example, lost a pound per week in the 1860s by altering his diet from

bread and milk for breakfast, or a pint of tea with plenty of milk and sugar, and buttered toast; meat, beer, much bread (of which I was always very fond) and pastry for dinner, the meal of tea similar to that of breakfast, and generally a fruit tart or bread and milk for supper

to the much more restrained combination of meat "of any kind except pork," tea "without milk or sugar," a small amount of "dry toast" (without butter), vegetables "except potato," and fruit "out of a pudding" (i.e., not in a sugary preparation). More broadly, he "was advised to abstain as much as possible" from "[b]read, butter, milk, sugar, beer and potatoes, which had been the main (and I thought innocent) elements of my existence… These said my excellent adviser, contain starch and saccharine matter, tending to create fat, and should be avoided altogether." 35 Physicians such as Thomas Short and Malcolm Flemyng and the surgeon William Wadd likewise discussed diet, with Wadd asserting that "a free indulgence of the table is the principal" cause of "excessive corpulency" and both Short and Flemyng emphasizing the dangers of rich and "oily" foods. Though over-consumption may have been the primary culprit for all of these men, 36 they considered it by no means the only cause of obesity, pointing also to such various factors as heredity; a sedentary lifestyle; the thickness of the blood or constitution of the fat cells; insufficient evacuation through urine, feces, and perspiration; sleeping too much; and taking warm baths. 37 However, among these factors, only population-level dietary changes can explain the apparent rise in the incidence of English obesity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

"A goodly, portly man": Humanizing Corpulency

Despite the wide variety of source material describing contemporary fat people, we know little about corpulent individuals beyond the particularly famous Edward Bright and Daniel Lambert (discussed below). For example, the majority of the obese individuals mentioned in Thomas King Chambers' medical case list were presented as no more than a series of statistics. In Corpulence; or, Excess of Fat in the Human Body, Chambers discussed "R.J.G.," a 5'10" tall man who weighed 189 pounds (86 kg at 178 cm) when his "[o]besity commenced" at 25 years old; by age 42, he had risen to 266 pounds (121 kg), which the man attributed, as he told Chambers, to having "too little to do, and a contented disposition." Chambers characterized R.J.G. as having a "[h]ereditary" component to his obesity, classified his bones as of "[m]oderate" size, and recorded that the man suffered from "[t]wo fits from plethora [an abundance of blood], at [age] 30;" his bowel movements were "[n]atural." 38 While this information was likely interesting for Chambers' audience, who he seems to presume would have consisted primarily of physicians, such data gives us no sense of R.J.G. as a person. Similarly, though William Wadd's more discursive descriptions of fat individuals sometimes included rather colorful details ("Captain – K. of the Jamaica trade, weighs nearly twenty-eight stone [392 pounds or 178 kg]. He is a great eater, and in the course of the night, always drinks from three to four quarts of water. His size may be judged by the observation of a negro, who described him as 'great big man! – man, big as tub! massa'" 39), this description ultimately provides no more sense of the person than do Chambers' clinical details and is indeed rather insulting to the captain, as well.

Wadd did provide a bit more personal information for some individuals on the show circuit. For example, a 5-year-old girl from Worcestershire died suddenly in 1788, weighing nearly 224 pounds (102 kg); despite her size, he asserted that "[h]er face was beautiful, and she was exceedingly active." Though Wadd did not explicitly say the girl had been put on show, she had died "at an inn in the city of York," far from her county of birth, suggesting that her parents may have been carrying her around England to put her on display in local pubs or coffee houses, a rather lucrative enterprise. However, Wadd included significantly less detail about other fat children on Europe's show circuit, such as the infant "Wybrants," who weighed 39 pounds and "measured two feet round the body" (18 kg and 61 cm around) at only four months old (Figure 1); 40 Mary Tate, who weighed 182 pounds (83 kg) at age twelve and had been "exhibited to the public at a shilling each person" when she was six years old; or the "infant Hercules," who at seven years old weighed 220 pounds (100 kg) and whose "body resembl[ed] the figure of a corpulent Chinese Mandarine [sic]." 41 Wadd's final example—comparing a fat child to a Chinese bureaucrat—points to what Chambers rather disgustedly called Wadd's "ill-judged levity" in collecting "cases … rather to furnish amusement than to increase knowledge." 42 Though Wadd was clearly aware that the "little miseries of the corpulent" included "their exposure to ridicule," this did not stop him from a "merry" repetition of fat jokes in the introduction to his second work on obesity, Comments on Corpulency: Lineaments of Leanness: Mems on Diet and Dietetics. Indeed, the volume is illustrated with Wadd's own etchings of anonymous fat individuals—enabling readers to stare, even if they could not view an exhibition themselves—which straddle the line between realism and caricature. As Wadd admitted that he believed corpulent people "from their very nature, approach to caricature," 43 the appearance of these illustrations should perhaps not be surprising, though Chambers was clearly disappointed by Wadd's tone.

This tendency to ridicule the obese permeates much, though certainly not all, of the source material from this period, which we will examine primarily in relation to England's two fattest men of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Edward Bright (1721-50) and Daniel Lambert (1770-1809) (Figure 2). Several months after Bright's death, the physician T. Coe wrote a letter to the Royal Society of London, subsequently published in the Philosophical Transactions, describing the appearance and life history of the man who Coe claimed to "have known ever since he was a boy, viz. Mr. Edward Bright, grocer, late of Malden [sic] in Essex." 44 As Palmira Fontes da Costa points out, letters sent to the Royal Society were based upon the ideal of "a mutual exchange of news and a code of polite conduct underpinned by an ethos of co-operation." 45 As a personal acquaintance of Bright, Coe's epistolary goal was to share privileged details of Bright's life with the educated readership of the Philosophical Transactions.

One of 88 such reports of physically unusual humans or animals published between the journal's inception in 1665 and the year 1800, Coe's rather dispassionate letter is likely to have been only minimally sensationalized. Indeed, this is the impression that Coe himself gives the reader in his opening line: "I now send you a plain but true and authentic account of an extraordinary man." According to Coe, Bright "was descended from families greatly inclined to corpulency, both on his father's and his mother's side" and was "always fat from a child," weighing 144 pounds (65 kg) at age 12. From an early age, he "used to eat somewhat remarkably; but of late years … he did not eat more in quantity than many other men, who, we say, have good stomachs," and until a few years before Bright's death, he was "very strong and active, and used a great deal of exercise." From the 584 pounds (265 kg) that he had weighed "about thirteen months before he died," and allowing for the fact that "he was manifestly grown bigger since the last weighing," Coe estimated that the 5'9.5" tall Bright had risen to something like "616 pounds neat weight" (279 kg at 177 cm) at the time of his death. Though Bright never officially put himself on show, "he was the gazing-stock and admiration of all people, as he walked along the streets." 46 Indeed, William Banting cited this sort of unwanted attention—"the sneers and remarks of the cruel and injudicious in public assemblies, public vehicles, or the ordinary street traffic"—as part of the impetus for beginning his own dieting program. 47

Not even Bright's death put an end to the public's fascination with his size, as "[g]reat numbers of people came to see the coffin … and at the funeral there was a vast concourse … out of curiosity to see, how such a corps [sic] could be got to the ground." 48 According to a contemporary newspaper, this was effected with "the Help of a Slider and Pulleys." 49 Bright even became the subject of an infamous bet shortly after his death:

a Dispute arose between two Gentlemen … about the Size of a Waistcoat that belong'd to the late Mr. Edward Bright … one affirming that he could button five Men … within it, without breaking a Stitch, or straining a Button; the other positively denying it, a Wager ensued … not only five, but seven Men were with the greatest Ease included; and 'tis remarkable this Waistcoat was sent to the Taylor's to be let out, being too little for him. 50

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson asserts that "[t]he relics of giants, like those of saints, are sought after as stareable remnants that call up the wonder of the vanished extraordinary body." 51 Indeed, though Edward Bright's waistcoat has not survived to the present day, the Maldon Museum owns a replica of the garment, as well as a sculpture of the seven men buttoned therein. 52 The curious onlookers at the funeral and the bets focused around the size of Bright's clothing—as well as a continued awareness of the story, at least in Maldon itself—clearly point to a public fascination with, and distinct tendency to mock, obesity since at least the eighteenth century.

Similarly, the works that describe Daniel Lambert indicate a near obsession with this "King of Fat Men," as Joyce Huff styled him. 53 The sources fall into three broad genres: printed advertisements, at least some of which may have been composed by Lambert himself, that attempted to convince readers to pay for the privilege of viewing him; sensationalistic and often satirical descriptions of Lambert's major life events that showed up in contemporary newspapers; and compilations of information culled from the first two categories that have been remixed and reprinted ever since his death. The earliest advertisement I have located dates from shortly after Lambert first put himself on display in London in 1806:

EXHIBITION – MR. DANIEL LAMBERT, of Leicester, the greatest Curiosity in the World, who, at the age of 36 years weighs upwards of 50 stone (14lb. to the stone). 54 Mr. Lambert will see company, at his house, No. 53, Piccadilly, opposite St. James's Church, from Twelve to Five o'clock. Tickets of Admission 1s. each. 55

Presumably, Lambert would have written this advertisement himself, as there is no evidence that he employed a manager. Indeed, when Lambert died, the obituary run by The Hull Packet made it clear that Lambert had solicited his own materials, at least when visiting Stamford, Lincolnshire:

[I]ntending to receive the visits of the curious … [Lambert] sent a message to the office of this paper, requesting that, as "the mountain could not wait upon Mahomet, Mahomet would go to the mountain" – or, in other words, that the printer would call upon him, and receive an order for executing some hand-bills announcing Mr. Lambert's arrival, and his desire to see company. … He was in bed … fatigued with his journey; but anxious that the bills might be quickly printed, in order to his seeing company next morning. 56

These "hand-bills" likely resembled one that has survived from Lambert's 1807 return to London, which largely follows the phrasing of the classified advertisement from The Morning Post discussed above. 57

Though the broad facts mentioned in the obituary are likely to be true—Lambert arrived in Stamford, asked The Hull Packet's printer to attend upon him, and died the following morning 58—Lambert's apparent reference to himself as a "mountain" may in fact be a rhetorical flourish on the writer's part, rather than Lambert's own phrasing. The expression "if the mountain will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to the mountain" was a proverb by the nineteenth century, having originated in the 1625 edition of Francis Bacon's Essays. 59 While Lambert could certainly have quoted the proverb himself, the obituary utilized other similar phrases that cannot be attributed to Lambert. For example, the bed in which Lambert died was described as "of large dimensions—('Ossa upon Olympus, and Pelion upon Ossa')," an allusion to the Greek giants' attempt to climb to heaven by piling mountains on top of one another, much as Lambert was laying atop a particularly large bed. Indeed, fat jokes beyond just these mountainous references appear throughout the obituary. Lambert's dead body was likened to "clogged machinery," and Lambert himself was described as "this prodigy of mammon," a phrase usually used in reference to an inordinate desire for riches but here probably intended as a critique of his ample diet (and the money spent thereon). The author further claimed that the obituary section of the newspaper had been

swell[ed] … with an article, which, if its extent might preserve a proportion with the magnitude of the subject upon which it treats, would exceed the limits of a newspaper, as much as the great Mr. Daniel Lambert hath exceeded the common dimensions of mankind.

In parting, the obituary concluded with a quotation from Henry IV, Part 1, comparing Lambert to Shakespeare's quintessential fat man, Falstaff: "He was 'A goodly, portly man, i'faith, and corpulent: of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage.'" 60 In context, the pithy "mountain" quotation seems to have been a quip on the part of the author that was falsely attributed to the man himself in later accounts of Lambert's life and death.

Similarly, when Lambert was selected by lot to serve in Leicestershire's militia, the newspapers had a field day with fat jokes. The Lancaster Gazette called Lambert a "weighty celebrity," The Morning Post crowed that "his comrades in the rear will be tolerably well covered," and The Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury speculated that "this man-mountain 61 will serve by substitute," further quipping that it was impossible to know "how many men in buckram should in fairness grow out of this one, who is in himself a host." 62 Not only was it assumed by each of these publications that Lambert would be unable to act as a militiaman 63—a role that would require at least moderate, if sporadic, exertion—but two of the three also suggested that, due to his size, multiple other men should be made to take his place.

The question of Lambert's physical fitness is an interesting one. The etching produced while Lambert was on show in London in 1806 (Figure 2) claimed that he had been "accustomed … to much exercise, both walking and riding" before the age of twenty, "at which time he began gradually to increase in bulk." Thereafter, contrary to contemporary expectations, "the more exercise he took the more he seemed to increase in size," which suggests that Lambert had remained active as his weight increased. It is unknown whether Lambert himself composed the text accompanying the etching, but the fact that it was produced while he was on show in London, and indeed advertised the location and times of display, suggests that even if the details related in this piece were not strictly true, they were at least part of the public persona that Lambert had cultivated. We have some corroboration of the etching's suggestion that he "has been a great sportsman, taking great delight in shooting, coursing, cocking, &c." in The York Herald's assertion that "few men are better versed in what relates to either the turf, the sports of the field, or the breeding and training of dogs" than Lambert. 64 Indeed, a pair of classified advertisements from 1806 and 1807 announcing the sale of some of these hunting dogs—part of Lambert's "collection of setters and pointers"—raised 215 guineas at auction, suggesting that Lambert may have been breeding these animals at least in part as a means of garnering income. 65

Financial considerations likely also played some part in Lambert's decision to put himself on display in the first place. Lambert had been keeper of the Leicester house of correction until it closed in 1805; though he was granted a £50 annuity thereafter, 66 the fact that Lambert traveled to London on show in 1806 and simultaneously began selling off his hunting dogs suggests that the annuity was insufficient for his lifestyle. The explanation for Lambert's entrée into show business proffered in the anonymous Life of that Wonderful and Extraordinarily Heavy Man, Daniel Lambert was rather different, however, suggesting that though Lambert

abhorred the very idea of exhibiting himself … the fame of his uncommon corpulence had spread … to such a degree … that he must either submit to be a close prisoner in his own house, or endure all the inconveniences without receiving the profits of an exhibition. 67

This work falls into the third category of sources about Lambert: discursive, colorful, and largely unverifiable compilations of anecdotes that were published after his death. 68 Some of these stories seem rather far-fetched—for example, that Lambert supposedly fought off a trained bear that was menacing a local dog 69—but the suggestion that Lambert decided to go into show business to capitalize on the fact that he was going to be stared at regardless seems rather reasonable.

Lambert's audience on the show circuit probably consisted primarily of the middling classes, people like Lambert himself, though his one-shilling entry fee would not have been completely unaffordable for a laborer or domestic servant. Nor was the price outside of the expected cost for entertainment at the time, as cheap theatre tickets in the late eighteenth century likewise sold for a shilling. 70 Lambert's choice of apartments in Piccadilly and Leicester Square, during his first and second trips to London respectively, is significant, as both neighborhoods were busy and likely saw heavy foot-traffic. 71 The handbills that he ordered to be printed in both London and Stamford were probably intended to pull in a casual audience who might have already been in the neighborhood, while the classified advertisements such as the one he placed in The Morning Post could have been aimed at a somewhat more genteel, newspaper-reading crowd. The original owner of the 1806 advertising etching (Figure 2) may have been one of Lambert's more well-heeled visitors, as he or she chose to pay a full shilling for the colorized version, rather than half price for a black-and-white copy. Produced a month after Lambert had first set himself up on show in London, the piece advertised Lambert as "see[ing] and convers[ing] with company every day, from twelve till five o'clock," though the duration of "[h]is stay in London is uncertain, it depending entirely upon circumstances." While it seems likely that Lambert's ideal audience would have been comprised of "many of the first rank and fashion," as the etching claimed, it is impossible to actually verify this assertion. 72

As had happened when Edward Bright died, Lambert's funeral was expected to be a public affair, with The Hull Packet discussing the supposed details of his burial several days before it actually took place:

His coffin, in which there has been great difficulty of placing him, is 6 feet 4 inches long, 4 feet 4 inches wide, and 2 feet 4 inches deep: 73 the immense substance of his legs makes it necessarily almost a square case. … The coffin, which consists of 112 superficial feet of elm, is built upon two axle-trees and four clog [cart] wheels; and upon these the remains of the poor man will be rolled into his grave; which, we understand, is to be in the new-burial ground at the back of St. Martin's church [Stamford, Lincolnshire]. A regular descent will be made, by cutting away the earth slopingly for some distance. – The window and wall of the room in which he lies must be taken down, to allow his exit. – He is to be buried at eight o'clock this (Friday) morning.

Though rhetoric is clearly at play in this obituary—beyond the "mountainous" references discussed above, the author waxed poetic about how "[t]he celebrated Sarcophagus of Alexander, viewed with so much admiration at the British Museum, would not nearly contain this immense sheer hulk," referring primarily to Lambert's coffin but also obliquely to Lambert himself 74—this description of how to bury a particularly corpulent man largely mirrors those detailing Bright's death half-a-century earlier. 75 Rhetorical flourishes aside, these stories do seem to address the difficulties attendant in burying a particularly fat man, as well as suggesting that Bright's and Lambert's bodies retained their appeal (and stare-ability) even after death.

* * *

As this essay has demonstrated, the public display of extremely corpulent people in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England can inform studies of both early modern monstrosity and nineteenth-century freakery, as well as providing some historical context for Fat Studies and Disability Studies. For example, Edward Bright and Daniel Lambert experienced the sort of Othering that epitomizes the curious gaze as applied to individuals with physical disabilities. Moreover, the rhetorical flourishes and fat jokes that permeated contemporary descriptions of these men clearly point to both a fascination with and a mockery of fat bodies that has continued into the modern period and provides a core concern for modern Fat activism. Similarly, the proscriptive and medicalized gaze, as demonstrated by Thomas King Chambers' and William Wadd's "Cases of Obese Persons," is a problem that both Disability Studies and Fat Studies have sought to counter, in order to return agency to the individuals whose bodies have historically been pathologized by an outside audience. However, the focus of this essay has largely been the beliefs, reactions, and fascinations of just such an audience, as the vast majority of contemporary sources were composed by medical professionals and newspaper writers. We heard directly from the fat man William Banting, though his anonymous reviewer questioned whether Banting had sufficient agency to be "entitled to call himself obese," and I have speculated that Daniel Lambert composed at least some of his own advertising materials. But ultimately, the study of human exhibition is largely dependent upon external voices: those who stare rather than those who are stared at. Indeed, though extremely corpulent individuals needed to exist in the first place in order to be incorporated into the show circuit, it was society's fascination with these new, unusual bodies that allowed fat people to rise into prominence as an entertainment feature in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England.



Coloured Etching by C. Williams, 1806. More description below.

Figure 1: Colorized etching of the four-month-old infant Wybrants, weighing 39 pounds (18 kg), sitting in his mother's lap on a chair. The contemporary description dubs him "Mr. Lambert in Miniature."

Charles Williams, Master Wybrants, an Infant Weighing 39 Pounds, on His Mother's Knee. Coloured Etching by C. Williams, 1806 ([London]: S.W. Fores, 6 October 1806); digital reproduction of Wellcome Library no. 852i, Wellcome Images, accessed August 10, 2017, https://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0007161.html. Supplied by Wellcome Collection, licensed under CC-BY.


Colorized etching of Daniel Lambert and Edward Bright. More description below.

Figure 2: Colorized double etching of Daniel Lambert (left), sitting in an armchair, and Edward Bright (right), standing with a cane in front of a chair.

Anonymous, Fairburn's Accurate Portraits of the Two Most Corpulent Englishmen Ever Known, with a Comparative Account of Their Extraordinary Persons and Manners (London: John Fairburn, 27 May 1806); digital reproduction of Wellcome Library no. 2348i, Wellcome Images, accessed August 10, 2017, https://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0007352.html. Supplied by Wellcome Collection, licensed under CC-BY.

Endnotes

  1. I wish to thank Krista Benson, Emily Cock, Richard Godden, Julian Halliday, Asa Simon Mittman, Dani Ryskamp, Patricia Skinner, and Jonathan Wlasiuk for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. Thanks also to the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors (Grand Valley State University) for providing work space and sustenance as I edited.
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  2. George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle, Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine: Being an Encyclopedic Collection of Rare and Extraordinary Cases, and of the Most Striking Instances of Abnormality in All Branches of Medicine and Surgery, Derived from an Exhaustive Research of Medical Literature from Its Origin to the Present Day, Abstracted, Classified, Annotated, and Indexed (New York: Bell Publishing Company, 1896), 356. https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.100794
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  3. While I am aware that the Fat Studies movement eschews obese as a pejorative and clinical term, this essay uses the words corpulent, obese, and fat interchangeably, as all were contemporary to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and appear throughout my sources. Similarly, I utilize the historical terms hermaphrodite and dwarf, rather than the modern intersex and little person, because the former terms were universally used to describe such individuals within the context of human exhibitions.
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  4. For example, the British Library owns a collection of fliers that advertise 40 different individuals on show in London between c.1677 and c.1740. A Collection of 77 Advertisements Relating to Dwarfs, Giants, and Other Monsters and Curiosities Exhibited for Public Inspection, N.Tab.2026/25, British Library.
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  5. Though Garland-Thomson's focus is on Victorian America, this characterization is applicable to England, as well. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, "Introduction: From Wonder to Error – A Genealogy of Freak Discourse in Modernity," in Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body, ed. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (New York and London: New York University Press, 1996), 4-5.
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  6. See for example: Jennifer Spinks, Monstrous Births and Visual Culture in Sixteenth-Century Germany (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2009), https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315653464; Julie Crawford, Marvelous Protestantism: Monstrous Births in Post-Reformation England (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005); and Palmira Fontes da Costa, The Singular and the Making of Knowledge at the Royal Society of London in the Eighteenth Century (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2009).
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  7. See for example: Garland-Thomson, "Introduction: From Wonder to Error," 1-19; and Nadja Durbach, Spectacle of Deformity: Freak Shows and Modern British Culture (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 2010). https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257689.001.0001
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  8. Richard Altick's The Shows of London (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1978) is perhaps the only work that covers human exhibitions through the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, thus bridging the lacuna that I highlight.
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  9. See for example: Anita Guerrini, Obesity and Depression in the Enlightenment: The Life and Times of George Cheyne (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000); and Michael Stolberg, "'Abhorreas Pinguedinem': Fat and Obesity in Early Modern Medicine (c. 1500-1750)," Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2012): 370-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2011.10.029
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  10. For example, Joyce Huff outlines the biography of Daniel Lambert, the "King of Fat Men," in her chapter on the survival of his legend in the centuries since his death; Richard Altick briefly discusses Lambert's show career, along with those of a few other corpulent people, in his chapter on nineteenth-century freak shows; and Ricky Jay details the life of Edward Bright in his popular history Jay's Journal of Anomalies. Joyce L. Huff, "Freaklore: The Dissemination, Fragmentation, and Reinvention of the Legend of Daniel Lambert, King of Fat Men," in Victorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in Britain, ed. Marlene Tromp (Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press, 2008), 37-59. Altick, The Shows of London, 253-7. Ricky Jay, Jay's Journal of Anomalies: Conjurers, Cheats, Hustlers, Hoaxters, Pranksters, Jokesters, Impostors, Pretenders, Sideshow Showmen, Armless Calligraphers, Mechanical Marvels, Popular Entertainments (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001), 9-16. A nineteenth-century example of this genre is the section on "Fat Folks.–Lambert and Bright" in John Timbs, English Eccentrics and Eccentricities (London: Chatto and Windus, 1875), 249-58.
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  11. Elena Levy-Navarro, The Culture of Obesity in Early and Late Modernity: Body Image in Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and Skelton (New York and Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008), 18. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230610439
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  12. See for example: Irina Metzler, A Social History of Disability in the Middle Ages: Cultural Considerations of Physical Impairment (New York and London: Routledge, 2013), https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203371169; and David M. Turner, Disability in Eighteenth-Century England: Imagining Physical Impairment (New York and London: Routledge, 2012). https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203117545
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  13. April Herndon, "Disparate but Disabled: Fat Embodiment and Disability Studies," NWSA Journal 14, no. 3 (Autumn 2002): 122-3. Laura Backstrom, "From the Freak Show to the Living Room: Cultural Representations of Dwarfism and Obesity," Sociological Forum 27, no. 3 (September 2012): 684-6. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1573-7861.2012.01341.x
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  14. Obesity is not explicitly mentioned within the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but a Louisiana District Court has ruled in favor of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which "enforces federal law prohibiting employment discrimination") that "severe obesity" is a protected category under the ADA. Similarly, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that "morbid obesity may amount to a 'disability'" if it "hinders participation in professional life." No clear definition for "severe" or "morbid" is provided in either ruling. "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as Amended," Americans with Disabilities Act, last modified 2009, accessed June 17, 2016, https://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm. "EEOC v. Resources for Human Development, Inc., 827 F. Supp. 2d 688 (E.D. La. 2011)," Court Listener, accessed June 17, 2016, https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/2158112/eeoc-v-resources-for-human-development-inc/. "Press Release 112/14," Court of Justice of the European Union, accessed June 17, 2016, http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2014-07/cp140112en.pdf.
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  15. "Disability, n.," Oxford English Dictionary, last modified 2008, accessed July 16, 2016, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/53381?redirectedFrom=disability.
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  16. Turner, Disability in Eighteenth-Century England, 17.
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  17. For example, both the armless Johann Kleyser alias John Valerius and the nearly-limbless Matthew Buchinger—who would both be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act—drew large, paying crowds in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England who watched them perform tasks both impressive (in Buchinger's case, this included micrography and sleight of hand) and mundane (among other tasks, Valerius could play cards and dice, shave, and fire a gun with only his feet). An illustration of Valerius performing these and other actions is reproduced in Ricky Jay, Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women (New York: Warner Books, 1986), 61. For an extended discussion of Matthew Buchinger, see Ricky Jay, Matthias Buchinger: "The Greatest German Living" by Ricky Jay Whose Peregrinations in Search of the "Little Man of Nuremberg" are Herein Revealed (Los Angeles: Siglio, 2016).
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  18. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Staring: How We Look (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 3, 93.
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  19. BMI is expressed as mass in kilograms divided by height in meters-squared (kg/m2).
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  20. "Defining Adult Overweight and Obesity," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last modified 2016, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html. "Body Mass Index Table 1," National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi_tbl.htm. "Body Mass Index Table 2," National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi_tbl2.htm.
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  21. Joyce Huff asserts that nineteenth-century statistical compilations such as Hutchinson's were driven by "the consolidation of medical authority and the rise of arithmetical ways of knowing in the sciences," which "developed into a perceived need to determine the relative sizes of individual bodies in relation to emerging statistical norms." Similarly, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson says that the idea of the "average man" was "[i]nvented by Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet in 1842" and has become "a statistical phantom who stands in for us all. … The description of average has led, largely under the pressure of medicalization, to a prescription for normality." Huff, "Freaklore," 37. Garland-Thomson, Staring, 30.
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  22. John Hutchinson, "On the Capacity of the Lungs, and on the Respiratory Functions, with a View of Establishing a Precise and Easy Method of Detecting Disease by the Spirometer," Medico-Chirurgical Transactions 29 (1846): 166. Hutchinson's chart was reproduced in William Banting, Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public (reprinted from the third London ed., San Francisco: A. Roman & Co., 1865), 21; and Thomas King Chambers, Corpulence; or, Excess of Fat in the Human Body: Its Relations to Chemistry and Physiology, Its Bearings on Other Diseases and the Value of Human Life, and Its Indications of Treatment. With an Appendix on Emaciation (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1850), 73.
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  23. Harper's Weekly, "On Corpulency and Leanness," reprinted in Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public, by William Banting (San Francisco: A. Roman & Co., 1865), 55.
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  24. Thomas Short, A Discourse Concerning the Causes and Effects of Corpulency: Together with the Method for Its Prevention and Cure (London: J. Roberts, 1727), 9, 39.
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  25. Malcolm Flemyng, A Discourse on the Nature, Causes, and Cure of Corpulency. Illustrated by a Remarkable Case, Read before the Royal Society, November 1757 (London: L. Davis and C. Reymers, 1760), 1.
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  26. Mrs. S's modern BMI score classifies her as overweight, rather than obese. Though accounts of heavy women appear in many similar publications, they generally weigh less than do their male counterparts. Indeed, Chambers' list is evenly split between men and women, including 19 of each gender; however, the heaviest woman on the list weighed 400 pounds (181 kg), while the heaviest man was 504 pounds (229 kg). Chambers, Corpulence; or, Excess of Fat in the Human Body, 139-43.
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  27. Blackwood's Magazine, "Banting on Corpulence," reprinted in Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public, by William Banting (San Francisco: A. Roman & Co., 1865), 35.
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  28. Many of Wadd's statistics are given in stone (14 pounds to the stone) or hundredweight (112 pounds to the hundredweight), making them approximations rather than exact weights, and he does not include a height for Mr. J. William Wadd, Cursory Remarks on Corpulence; or Obesity Considered as a Disease: With a Critical Examination of Ancient and Modern Opinions Relative to Its Causes and Cure (3rd ed. London: J. Callow, 1816), 82-125 passim.
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  29. Lucia Dacome has also noted this belief in an eighteenth-century obesity epidemic. Lucia Dacome, "Useless and Pernicious Matter: Corpulence in Eighteenth-Century England," in Cultures of the Abdomen: Diet, Digestion, and Fat in the Modern World, eds. Christopher E. Forth and Ana Carden-Coyne (New York and Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), 185-6. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781403981387_11
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  30. Short, A Discourse Concerning the Causes and Effects of Corpulency, 10.
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  31. Wadd, Cursory Remarks on Corpulence, 3.
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  32. No contemporary sources explicitly discuss either a minimum income that was necessary for extreme weight gain or a socio-economic class that was more likely to experience the same. Stolberg, "'Abhorreas Pinguedinem'," 374.
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  33. Sidney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (New York: Elisabeth Sifton Books and Viking, 1985), 30, 39, 67, 143.
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  34. Carole Shammas, "Food Expenditures and Economic Well-Being in Early Modern England," The Journal of Economic History 43, no. 1 (March 1983): 97-9. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022050700029041
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  35. Banting, Letter on Corpulence, 9-11.
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  36. I have not located any primary sources discussing corpulency that were written by women, though this dearth may have more to do with the higher percentage of authors and physicians who were male than with corpulency being a particularly gendered topic.
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  37. Though these factors loosely resemble the medieval regimen of balance characterized by the six non-naturals—air, sleep and waking, motion and rest, food and drink, excretion, and the emotions—none of these eighteenth- or nineteenth-century authors refer directly to this schema. Short, A Discourse Concerning the Causes and Effects of Corpulency, 35-8. Flemyng, A Discourse on the Nature, Causes, and Cure of Corpulency, 4-9. Wadd, Cursory Remarks on Corpulence, 15-18.
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  38. Chambers, Corpulence; or, Excess of Fat in the Human Body, 113, 139-43.
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  39. Wadd, Cursory Remarks on Corpulence, 106.
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  40. The colorized etching advertises Wybrants as on display in Piccadilly, London in October of 1806; the text dubbing him "Mr. Lambert in Miniature" is particularly apt, as Daniel Lambert had put himself on show earlier that year in the same neighborhood. Despite the similarity in titles, "Master Wybrants the Modern Hercules" should not be mistaken for the seven-year-old "infant Hercules" also described by Wadd.
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  41. Wadd, Cursory Remarks on Corpulence, 122-5.
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  42. Chambers, Corpulence; or, Excess of Fat in the Human Body, 2.
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  43. William Wadd, Comments on Corpulency: Lineaments of Leanness: Mems on Diet and Dietetics (London: John Ebers & Co., 1829), 27, 38, and passim.
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  44. T. Coe, "A Letter from Dr. T. Coe, Physician at Chelmsford in Essex, to Dr. Cromwell Mortimer, Secr. R. S. concerning Mr. Bright, the Fat Man at Malden in Essex," Philosophical Transactions 47 (1751-2): 188. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstl.1751.0028
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  45. Fontes da Costa, The Singular and the Making of Knowledge, 25.
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  46. Coe, "A Letter from Dr. T. Coe," 188-93.
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  47. Banting, Letter on Corpulence, 7.
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  48. Coe, "A Letter from Dr. T. Coe," 193.
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  49. "The Coffin made for Mr. Edward Bright, of Malden in Essex, who died on Saturday last, aged thirty…," Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer, November 15-17, 1750; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 16, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i.
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  50. This bet has since become an urban legend in Bright's hometown of Maldon. "Some Time last Week a Dispute arose between two Gentlemen of Malden in Essex…," Read's Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, December 8, 1750; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i. "All Saints Maldon – History of Our Parish and Church," All Saints with St Peter Maldon, accessed August 16, 2019, https://www.allsaintsmaldon.com/about-us/anoverview9590.php.
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  51. Garland-Thomson, Staring, 170.
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  52. Similarly, the Stamford Museum (Lincolnshire) owns a number of Daniel Lambert's possessions, including a jacket, breeches, waistcoat, sock, and top hat, as well as three replica sets of these clothes. "Maldon's Larger than Life Character," British Broadcasting Company, last modified 2008, accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/essex/content/articles/2008/05/15/fat_man_maldon_feature.shtml. Stamford Museum, "Daniel Lambert: An Exalted and Convivial Mind," Rethinking Disability Representation. Research Centre for Museums and Galleries. University of Leicester, accessed August 16, 2019 via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, https://web.archive.org/web/20140628093941/http:/www2.le.ac.uk:80/departments/museumstudies/rcmg/projects/rethinking-disability-representation-1/Stamford%20Museum.pdf.
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  53. Huff, "Freaklore," title.
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  54. 700 pounds or 318 kg.
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  55. "Exhibition – Mr. Daniel Lambert, of Leicester, the greatest Curiosity in the World…," The Morning Post, April 3, 1806; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 16, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i.
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  56. "Death of Mr. Lambert!," The Hull Packet and Original Weekly Commercial, Literary and General Advertiser, June 27, 1809; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i.
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  57. Anonymous, Exhibition. Mr. Lambert, of Leicester, the Heaviest Man that Ever Lived, Weighing Upwards of 50 Stone, 14 Pound to the Stone, or More than 87 Stone London Weight (London: Nichols, [1807]); in Bridgeman Images, accessed August 9, 2017, http://www.bridgemanimages.com/en-US/asset/585753/english-school-19th-century/advert-for-an-exhibition-featuring-mr-daniel-lambert-who-weighed-50-stone-engraving. Thomas Seccombe, revised by E. L. O'Brien, "Lambert, Daniel (1770-1809)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, last modified 2004, accessed August 2, 2016, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/15932.
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  58. The newspaper also cited Lambert's weight at death as "52 stone 11 lbs." (739 pounds or 335 kg), an assertion that sounds reasonable, given that he had been advertised as weighing more than 700 pounds (318 kg) three years earlier, in 1806.
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  59. I have here rendered the phrase as presented in the Oxford English Dictionary; in the 1625 edition of Bacon's Essays, as in some later ones, "hill" stands in place of "mountain." "Mountain, n. and adj. [Phrase 3]," Oxford English Dictionary, last modified 2003, accessed August 11, 2017, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/122893?rskey=ZXqNcR&result=1&isAdvanced=false.
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  60. "Death of Mr. Lambert!," June 27, 1809 (italics original).
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  61. The phrase "man-mountain" arose out of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, written in 1726, as a description of Gulliver by the Lilliputians. "Man, n.1 (and int.) [Compounds 2.a]," Oxford English Dictionary, last modified 2000, accessed August 11, 2017, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/113198?redirectedFrom=man-mountain#eid38355275.
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  62. "Mr. Daniel Lambert, of weighty celebrity, was drawn in the late ballot for Leicestershire Militia…," The Lancaster Gazette and General Advertiser, for Lancashire, Westmorland, &c., November 7, 1807; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 16, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i. "Whenever Daniel Lambert is called out to serve in a military capacity…," The Morning Post, November 17, 1807; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i. "The celebrated Mr. Daniel Lambert has been balloted to serve in the militia for the county of Leicester!," The Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, November 6, 1807; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i. (All italics original.)
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  63. None of the sources indicate whether he actually mustered for service or was instead excused.
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  64. Anonymous, Fairburn's Accurate Portraits of the Two Most Corpulent Englishmen Ever Known, with a Comparative Account of Their Extraordinary Persons and Manners (London: John Fairburn, 27 May 1806); digital reproduction of Wellcome Library no. 2348i, Wellcome Images, accessed August 10, 2017, https://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0007352.html. "Mr. Daniel Lambert," The York Herald, June 4, 1808; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 16, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i. "Mr. Daniel Lambert," The York Herald, September 17, 1808; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i.
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  65. "To the Sporting World. By Mr. Tattersall, This Day…," The Morning Post, June 30, 1806; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i. "Mr. Daniel Lambert's collection of setters and pointers…," The Morning Post, July 5, 1806; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed on June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i. "By Mr. Tattersall, on Monday, July 6, if not previously disposed of by Private Contract…," The Morning Post, June 16, 1807; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 16, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i.
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  66. Seccombe, "Lambert, Daniel (1770-1809)."
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  67. Anonymous, The Life of that Wonderful and Extraordinarily Heavy Man, Daniel Lambert, from His Birth to the Moment of His Dissolution; with an Account of Men Noted for Their Corpulency, and Other Interesting Matter (New York: Samuel Wood & Sons, 1818), 16-17.
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  68. Most of these works are rather encyclopedic, providing anecdotal details about the lives of a number of unusual humans. See for example: George Smeeton, Biographia Curiosa; or Memoirs of Remarkable Characters of the Reign of George the Third. With Their Portraits. Collected from the Most Authentic Sources, by George Smeeton and Others (London: J. Robins and Co., 1822); and John Timbs, English Eccentrics and Eccentricities (London: Chatto and Windus, 1875).
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  69. Anonymous, The Life of that Wonderful and Extraordinarily Heavy Man, 8-12.
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  70. This price can be contrasted further with the "fat Woman, that weighted [sic] thirty-two Stone" (448 pounds or 203 kg) who had gone on display in Dover in 1751 in "a great [wicker] Chair" at the extremely affordable price of "a Penny a-piece." Robert D. Hume, "The Value of Money in Eighteenth-Century England: Incomes, Prices, Buying Power—and Some Problems in Cultural Economics," Huntington Library Quarterly 77, no. 4 (2015): 383, https://doi.org/10.1525/hlq.2014.77.4.373; "Extract of a Letter from Dover, August 5," Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer, August 6-8, 1751; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i.
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  71. Anonymous, Fairburn's Accurate Portraits. Altick, The Shows of London, 254.
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  72. The etching additionally depicts Edward Bright (right), who had been known as the fattest man in England before Lambert came along; the two men were often compared in contemporary and later sources. Anonymous, Fairburn's Accurate Portraits.
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  73. 193 x 132 x 71 cm.
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  74. "Death of Mr. Lambert!," June 27, 1809.
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  75. "The Coffin made for Mr. Edward Bright…," November 15-17, 1750. "Last Saturday died at Malden in Essex, aged 30 Years, Mr. Edward Bright, an eminent Shopkeeper in that Town…," Old England, November 17, 1750; in Gale Digital Collections: British Newspapers, 1600-1950, accessed June 15, 2016, http://www.gale.com/c/british-library-newspapers-part-i.
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