Junius Brutus Booth and the Fat Girl

Junius Brutus Booth was a mad theatrical genius and victim of severe mood swings. After one engrossing performance he had a chance meeting with a professional sideshow performer in the cramped backstage area. The result is documented as follows:

Junius Booth and the Fat Girl 1851

The real name of the “fat girl” who crossed paths with Booth was Hannah Crouse. From the age of 6, Hannah’s immense weight was commented on in newspapers and she soon found herself making a living as a traveling human oddity. Here is a newspaper advertisement from a time she was exhibiting herself in Washingon, D.C.

Hannah Crouse

As Hannah grew older, her weight did as well. A 1854 advertisement for the then 20 year-old girl, highlighted that she was:

“The youngest of all the Large Women, very intelligent and active, and weighing more than any other woman ever known – but she really does not weigh more than 900 pounds. We challenge the world to produce her equal.”

As time went on, Hannah Crouse was sometimes confused with another famous “Large Woman” of the era, Hannah Perkins. Ms. Perkins achieved even greater fame by touring with P. T. Barnum. She ended up marrying another performer named John Battersby who exhibited himself as the “Living Skeleton”.

Hannah and John Battersby

While Hannah Crouse survived her backstage encounter with the confused and frenzied Junius Brutus Booth, undoubtedly her immense weight contributed to her early demise. Hannah Crouse died in August of 1856 at the age of 21 or 22.

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5 thoughts on “Junius Brutus Booth and the Fat Girl

  1. Sharon

    Great information and post! How did you discover all this?

    • Sharon,

      The story of Junius and Hannah is in Stephen Archer’s book, Junius Brutus Booth: Theatrical Prometheus. While I was looking for more information on “Anna” Crouse, I stumbled across this website (http://ow.ly/yegzO) that gave her true name, but confused her with Hannah Perkins. I then searched through GenealogyBank.com for newspaper articles and found a short, but blurry obit for Hannah Crouse in 1856. I searched for a picture of Hannah Crouse, but had to settle with Ms. Perkins instead.

      Thanks for reading!

      Dave

  2. Donna Peterson

    You always have such great stories, I love them.

  3. As I stated in my biography of Booth, I found this in Spirit of the Times, 25 January 1851, and was almost thrown out of the University of Missouri library because I was laughing so hard. There’s an ad for THE AMERICAN MAMMOTH GIRL, 15 years old, weights 430 lbs., 5 feet 5 1/2 inches in height, and measures 5 feet 3 1/2 inches around the shoulders and 2 feet around the arm.” The Baltimore Sun, 25 April 1850.

    In the Boston Museum advertisements Miss Crouse was described as sixteen years old, weighing 456 pounds.

    Stephen Archer

    • Dr. Archer,

      Thank you for sharing such a humorous story. If you haven’t been able to tell, I’m a huge fan of your work and book on Junius. Thank you for the years of study that you put in to create such a splendid volume. It’s a book that should be in every theatrical library and one that no Booth buff should be without.

      I also want to thank you for taking the time to comment about the subject you literally wrote the book on. If there are any other things you would like to share on this or one of my other Booth family posts, I for one would love to hear your perspective.

      Sincerely,

      Dave Taylor

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