Thank you to all the readers who have supported the “The Secret Life of The Elephant Man” both in the UK and internationally. I wanted to address some of the questions I have been asked about the book.
I have been asked whether my description of Alice Powell’s physical appearance is influenced by Jane Morris the famous model of many Pre-Raphaelite paintings, most notably the work of Gabriel Rossetti. I can confirm that my description of Alice Powell was not influenced by Jane Morris, although I can see a passing resemblance. I actually based Alice’s appearance on an old archive photograph from the Victorian era which I saw many years ago.
“Is the building where Joseph Merrick exhibited in Whitechapel still standing?” Yes – it’s directly opposite The London Hospital on Whitechapel Road.
“Was there really a music hall entertainer called Zampi The One Legged Gymnast?” Yes, I examined archive evidence about Zampi. I slightly exaggerated his pay, but he was certainly earning very good money in the 1880’s-90’s.
“Where can I find out more about Victorian sideshows?” I would highly recommend The National Fairground Archive at Sheffield University, they have some great resources. Be sure to check out the terms and conditions on their webpage and let them know of your visit well in advance.
“Was Dr Gilbert Greystone a real life Jack the Ripper suspect?” Dr Gilbert Greystone is a fictional character, but I can see how you might consider him as a possible suspect! He is active in Whitechapel around the same time as the notorious murders and is an extremely dubious man.
Thanks again for your questions which can be submitted via the Contact page.