ANSWERS TO GO with Susan Smith

Q. I enjoyed the new musical film “The Greatest Showman” based on the life of P.T. Barnum of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame. According to the film, Barnum met Queen Victoria and brought Jenny Lind to America. The film had an air of fantasy. Did he have any connection to either woman?

A. “P.T. Barnum: America’s Greatest Showman” by Philip B. Kunhardt was checked out when this question came in. We placed a reserve on this biography for our patron.

Barnum did indeed meet Queen Victoria and he did bring singer Jenny Lind to America.

According to Barnum’s entry in “American National Biography,” Barnum took two-foot-tall Charles S. Stratton to tour England in 1844. Stratton, known as the “American General” and/or “Tom Thumb,” and Barnum had three audiences at Buckingham Palace. For details, check out Julia Baird’s “Victoria, the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire.”.

Let’s turn to Victoria and Jenny Lind. Another biography of the queen by Christopher Hibbert describes the 1863 wedding of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and Alexandra of Denmark. At this wedding, Lind sang a chorale composed by Prince Albert, Victoria’s husband, who died in 1861.

I found more information on Lind and Barnum in “American National Biography.”

“In 1850, though he had never heard her sing, Barnum brought to the United States the soprano Jenny Lind, the ‘Swedish Nightingale.’

“Barnum’s advance work produced a crowd of 20,000 at Lind’s arrival in New York. Soon there were Jenny Lind gloves, bonnets, riding hats, shawls, mantillas, robes, chairs, sofas and pianos. Lind received $10,000 for her first concert, which sold $18,000 in tickets. Her concert tour, which included Cuba, is credited with opening the United States to major European stars.”

The article on Jenny Lind in “Women in World History” also refers to Lind’s American tour.

“After a series of triumphant tours in New York, Boston and Washington, Jenny Lind gave concerts throughout the South and in cities along the Mississippi. Most of these engagements were sold out and the excitement generated by her appearances proved unprecedented.

“All this would change, though, during the second half of the tour. Tired of the flamboyant publicity that often accompanied her concerts and concerned about the high price of tickets, Lind terminated her contract with Barnum… Without the work of the master publicist Barnum and his professional staff, Lind rarely sold out her remaining concerts.”

San Marcos Daily Record

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