The Lives of Dwarfs

Betty M. Adelson is the author of The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity toward Social Liberation

In the preface to the book she writes:

“Ever since my daughter Anna was born thirty years ago with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, I have recognized the need for a book about the lives of dwarfs. At that time I eagerly searched the literature and found only some specialized medical articles that were not very helpful, and sometimes alarming. Subsequently, I came upon books with titles like Freaks, Human Oddities, or Victorian Grotesque: their inadequacies and biases strengthened my resolve to offer a truer narrative to dwarfs and their families and to a society that had all too often been unwelcoming and uncomprehending. The work would be a social history that described the presence of dwarfs in other eras, in mythology and the arts, but one that would also cast light on the lives of dwarfs today and be informed by my own and others’ personal experiences.

Had there been any eminent dwarfs? If so, what had their lives and those of ordinary dwarfs in other societies been? I could only imagine. But I did know that raising a child to maturity and encountering other families and individuals and professionals in the process had had a profound, transforming effect upon me. It had me consider and develop strong feelings about such issues as disability, medical treatment, height, beauty, identity, and even the force of mythology. A book would need to touch upon all these issues.”

This powerful book covers all these topics in a graceful, thorough manner.