The Elephant man

The life of Joseph Carey Merrick was scarred not unlike his face, since the time he was born. Joseph was born with several deformities on his face and body. These deformities only grew more and more severe as he grew older. His skin was clouded by thick lumps of flesh. His hands and feet did not grow in a uniform manner but of various sizes. He soon became ugly and unwanted. He was rejected by his father and mother. It is then, that is odd looking creature went to a Liverpool warehouse to earn a living despite his physical disabilities. This step formed his later career.


After four years of working at the warehouse, Joseph was discovered by a showman Sam Torr, and convinced of a comfortable life in the show business by him. Joseph agreed and was soon touring the eastern midlands of England and living on a healthy pay. From now on Joseph Merrick known as ‘The Elephant Man’.


All was not well for Joseph in the show business. In his autobiography titled- The Autobiography of Joseph Carey Merrick, he write, “I was taunted and sneered at so that I would not go home to my meals, and used to stay in the streets with an hungry belly rather than return for anything to eat, what few half-meals I did have, I was taunted with the remark—’That’s more than you have earned.’

In one incident, Merrick travelled to Brussels to be displayed in the town square. There he was robbed and abandoned by his organizers. It is with great trouble that Joseph returned to London.


Joseph was examined by numerous doctors but they were at a loss to determine his condition. His father tried to explain his condition by claiming that when Joseph’s mother Mary was pregnant, she had visited the town fair where she fell down after being frightened by an aggressive elephant. Scientists however have ruled out any possibility of maternal impressions having any effect on the child’s physical condition.


Joseph Merrick was immortalized in 1980s film titled The Elephant Man, directed by David Lynch and was claimed to be a biographical account of Joseph Merrick.