The story of Ella Harper, who became famous as the "camel girl"

The story of Ella Harper, who became famous as the "camel girl"

Categories: Celebrities | History | Society

Just a century ago, a person born with physical disabilities in a poor family had only one way to arrange his life. He got a job in the circus and performed for the amusement of the public. Such a fate did not pass the American Ella Harper, who went down in history as a "camel girl". She became one of the circus sensations of the late 19th century and made good money touring the United States.

The story of Ella Harper, who became famous as the "camel girl"

Ella Harper was born in 1870 in the provincial town of Hendersonville, Tennessee. Her family was large, because her parents, William and Minerva Harper, already had three daughters and a son. Ella was born with her twin brother, who was named Everett. It immediately became clear that something was wrong with the girl. Her knees were not bent like other people, but backwards. Whether her brother had any abnormalities is unknown.

The story of Ella Harper, who became famous as the "camel girl"

Today, this congenital disease is called recurvation of the knee joint. People who suffer from it can learn to walk upright in early childhood. But over time, the ability of the joints to withstand loads decreases and they have to move on all fours. It is clear that with a problem like this, Ella could only count on a job in the circus.

At the age of 12, the girl was accepted into the circus troupe Harris' Nickle Plate. It was a big circus with animals, clowns, acrobats and illusionists. But the most important part of any performance was a show of people with an unusual appearance or congenital abnormalities. Along with Ella Harper, who received the nickname "camel girl", dwarfs, a bearded woman, a three-armed man and other people with physical features toured.

The story of Ella Harper, who became famous as the "camel girl"

Of all the artists on the show, it was Ella who aroused the greatest interest among the public. She provided impressive box office receipts, and this was reflected in her earnings. The owner of the circus paid the girl 200 dollars a week, which today corresponds to 5,000 dollars (408 thousand rubles). This is a lot of money, both at the end of the 19th century and today.

Everyone who saw Ella was struck by the contrast of her physical handicap and her sweet face. In addition, she was a well-mannered and benevolent person. Many visitors to the circus sought to see the circus star after the performance and chat. Some were even lucky to take a joint photo with an unusual girl. All this only contributed to the growth of Harper's popularity and, accordingly, the income of the circus.

The story of Ella Harper, who became famous as the "camel girl"

The last known photo of the "camel girl" was taken in 1886 by the famous New York photographer Charles Eisenmann. He specialized in photographing people with anomalies, and Harper's photo session became one of the best in his collection. In the same year, 16-year-old Ella announced the end of her artistic career. She was persuaded to stay in the circus, but the girl was adamant.

So she commented on her departure in an interview with one of the newspapers. In 1903, Ella and her mother moved to the state capital of Nashville.

The story of Ella Harper, who became famous as the "camel girl"

In 1905, the girl married the schoolteacher Robert Savely and gave birth to a daughter. Unfortunately, the child died before he lived even a year. After that, the couple adopted a newborn orphan in a shelter, but she died at the age of three months. Ella Harper died in 1921 of colon cancer. Her grave can still be seen today at Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.

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