Mary Ann Bevan, after developing acromegaly, toured the sideshow circuit as “the ugliest woman in the world”, 4th November 1919
Mary Ann Webster was born in 1874 in London into a large family and was quite an ordinary girl. Aged 29, she married Thomas Bevan and the couple went on to have four children, but Mary Ann’s appearance was drastically changing due to acromegaly, a disorder caused by the body producing too much growth hormone.
After the death of her husband in 1914, she no longer had the income to support herself and her four children. Bevan decided to capitalize on her appearance and entered a “Ugliest Woman” contest which she won.
In 1920, she was hired by Sam Gumpertz to appear in Coney Island’s Dreamland sideshow, a form of freak show, where she would spend most of the remainder of her life. She also made appearances for the Ringling Brothers Circus until her death on 26 December 1933.
Today, acromegaly is a condition which can be treated and controlled.