The Human Monster


[Julia seemed like] a monster to the whole world, an abnormality put on display for money, someone who had been taught a few artistic turns, like a trained animal. [But] for the few who knew her better, she was a warm, feeling, thoughtful, spiritually very gifted being with a sensitive heart and mind… and it affected her very deeply in her heart with sadness, having to stand beside people, instead of with them, and to be shown as a freak for money, not sharing any of the everyday joys in a home filled with love.

In Fahrend Volk (Travelling People), circus owner Hermann Otto wrote these impressions of Julia Pastrana, a Mexican woman born with hypertrichosis and exhibited around the world as a “bearded lady.” The Public Domain Review looks at the life and death of a “human curiosity.”

P.E. Garcia is an Editor-at-Large for the Rumpus and a contributor to HTMLGiant. They currently live in Philadelphia, where they were recently accidentally elected to be Judge of Elections. Find them on Twitter: @AvantGarcia. More from this author →