The Tragic Story Of Mary Ann Bevan, The So-Called ‘Ugliest Woman In The World’

The Tragic Story Of Mary Ann Bevan, The So-Called ‘Ugliest Woman In The World’

Mary Ann Bevan, a lovely English woman, was compelled to work in early 20th-century sideshows and circuses when she was diagnosed with acromegaly.
Mary Ann Bevan, often called the “Ugliest Woman in the World,” often performed in carnivals and other such events to make ends meet and provide for her family.

Mary Ann Bevan didn’t always have a reputation for being “ugly.”

She was born on the suburbs of London in the late 19th century, and at the time, she looked and was treated like any other young woman.

After reaching adulthood and having multiple children, everything changed when she was diagnosed with a rare disfiguring condition.
After only a few short years, Bevan’s face, hands, and feet were deformed beyond recognition, leaving her with no choice but to rely on her appearance to make ends meet.
Mary Ann Bevan, one of the most tragic figures of the once-thriving sideshow business, tells her story of how she became the Ugliest Woman in the World.
Mary Ann Bevan’s Early Life
Mary Ann Webster was born to a large family on the outskirts of London on December 20th, 1874.
She grew up just like her siblings, studied to become a nurse in 1894, and then married a farmer named Thomas Bevan from Kent in 1903.
The Bevans started their married life off right by having two healthy sons and two healthy daughters.
After Thomas’s untimely death in 1914, Mary was left to provide for their four young children on a meager salary.
After the death of her spouse, she began exhibiting symptoms of acromegaly, a condition characterized by an excess of growth hormone production by the pituitary glands.
Although uncommon, acromegaly can now be effectively treated if caught in its early stages.
Bevan’s looks began to radically alter, but there was nothing that could be done about it given the medical restrictions of the early 20th century.
Mary Ann Bevan Deals With Acromegaly Head-On
Sleep apnea, heart disease, and kidney problems are just some of the serious complications that can arise from acromegaly.
Bevan’s disease caused her normally sized hands and feet to balloon out of proportion, her forehead and lower jaw to protrude, and her nose to enlarge noticeably.
She had to take on a variety of odd occupations to support her family as her appearance changed and she found it difficult to land steady employment.
The uncommon disease irreversibly altered her appearance.
A former fairground worker named Bevan alleged that a farmer she had worked for years prior had informed her that “all [she] was fit for [was] the ugly woman competition.”
Bevan took the farmer’s advice to heart, and shortly thereafter joined and won the “Homeliest Woman” contest, beating out 250 other contestants.
Since her doctor had warned her that her condition would only worsen, she decided to take advantage of the situation for the benefit of her children after her success attracted the attention of sideshow proprietors.
Quickly, she found steady employment performing at fairs across the British Isles.
In 1920, Bevan answered an advertisement in a London newspaper reading “Wanted: Ugliest woman. Nothing repulsive, maimed or disfigured. Good pay guaranteed, and long engagement for successful applicant. Send recent photograph.”
The ad had been placed by a British agent for Barnum and Bailey’s circus, who found that she had “what may sound like a paradox, the face of an ugly woman that was not unpleasant.”

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