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Boruwlaski, Joseph [formerly Józef Boruslawski], styled Count Boruwlaski (1739–1837), travelling performer and memoirist, was born in November 1739 near Halicz, Galicia, Poland, the third son of a lower gentry family. The principal source for his life is his own memoirs, published in several editions between 1788 and 1820. When he was nine his father died, leaving a widow with five sons and one daughter. Three sons were very tall, but three children suffered from achondroplasia, an inherited condition in which the cartilage in the bones fails to grow. ...

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Coan, John (1727/8–1764), sideshow performer, was born at Tivetshall, Norfolk. Although he has been known as the Norfolk Dwarf, both accounts of his development and pictorial representations of him reveal that he was not a dwarf but a midget. Coan appeared to grow normally in his early years but by the time he was exhibited at the ...

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Joseph Carey Merrick [the Elephant Man] (1862–1890) by unknown photographer, c. 1889 Royal London Hospital Archives and Museum

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Merrick, Joseph Carey [called the Elephant Man] (1862–1890), freak show novelty and medical curiosity, was born at 50 Lee Street, Leicester, on 5 August 1862, the elder son (there was also a daughter) of Joseph Rockley Merrick (b. 1835/6), a warehouseman and machine operator in a cotton factory, and ...