“Deeply humane and splendidly researched, we believe that Becoming Tom Thumb is the first to do justice to Charles Stratton . . . It shows him to be a charming and dynamic entrepreneur who shrewdly exploited his international celebrity, by no means a hapless victim, and it does so with great insight and sympathy.”—The Victorian Society in America, awarding the 2014 Henry Russell Hitchcock Award
“Eric Lehman narrates Tom Thumb’s story crisply, with an eye for the telling anecdote.”—September 2014 issue of the New England Quarterly
“It is an understatement to say that Charles Stratton is worth a biography. In Lehman's gentle, entertaining, and informative Becoming Tom Thumb he has gotten a very good one.”—Eugene Leach, Connecticut History Review
“Sometimes the smallest men have the loudest voices...Full of adventure and triumph, Eric Lehman’s book is one you will remember for a lifetime.”—Madison Medieros, “16 Books Every Short Person Should Read,” Buzzfeed
“Eric Lehman’s Becoming Tom Thumb hits a sweet spot of celebrity biographies . . . [and] presents 'the General' as a fully developed human being, recognizing his amazing ability to create a place for himself in a world where he was different. The label of “circus studies” or “freak studies” never limits Lehman and he is able to give his subject the full recognition he deserves.”—Katie Richards, The Portland Book Review
Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity
When P. T. Barnum met twenty-five-inch-tall Charles Stratton at a Bridgeport, Connecticut hotel in 1843, one of the most important partnerships in entertainment history was born. With Barnum’s promotional skills and the miniature Stratton’s comedic talents, they charmed a Who’s Who of the 19th century, from Queen Victoria to Charles Dickens to Abraham Lincoln. Adored worldwide as “General Tom Thumb,” Stratton played to sold-out shows for almost forty years. From his days as a precocious child star to his tragic early death, Becoming Tom Thumb tells the full story of this iconic figure for the first time. It details his triumphs on the New York stage, his epic celebrity wedding, and his around-the-world tour, drawing on newly available primary sources and interviews. From the mansions of Paris to the deserts of Australia, Stratton’s unique brand of Yankee comedy not only earned him the accolades of millions of fans, it helped move little people out of the side show and into the lime light.
Winner of the Victorian Society of America's 2014 Henry Russell Hitchcock Award, finalist in the 2014 Housatonic Book Awards, and chosen as the "best of the best" of the University Presses by the American Library Association 2014.