Eugene*Grant Profile picture
Jul 8, 2018 27 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Thread: Heard of the Seven Dwarfs? Mini-Me? Tyrion?

Cool. Pull up a seat.

Let me tell you about Jeffrey Hudson - a real #dwarf person whose incredible life featured Kings and Queens, pirates and prisoners, soldiers and slaves.

He once shot a man dead for mocking him.

Hudson was born in England in 1619 to poor average height parents.

Not long after, the Duke of Buckingham moved nearby.

When he was 7, the Duchess of Buckingham asked his father to permit Jeffery to live with her.

The Duke 'gave' Jeffrey (you read that right) in **a pie** (you read that right, too) to Queen Henrietta Maria.

If that sounds disgusting and barbaric it's because it is (sadly, this is not the only time this humiliating practice occurred in history).

Jeffrey was the Queen's 'pet human' for the next 20 years.

He lived at her London palace, Denmark House.

He was not the only #dwarf person there: there were three others - Sara Holton, Anne Shepherd, and (King Charles I's dwarf) Richard Gibson, a talented artist.

How do we understand Jeffrey's life?

He'd pictures of him painted, and books were written.

He learned to ride a horse, shoot a pistol, play cards, fence, and dance.

Queen Henrietta Maria seemed to have doted on him...


He was, effectively, a pet. He was not free. He was 'exhibited'.

Like so many others throughout history, his #dwarf body was made into a spectacle to entertain.

He was at Court to "provide curiosity value and to make people laugh"

In 1630, Jeffrey, ten, was sent to France to be displayed to the French Court.

Pirates intercepted his ship back to England.

They kept him and others captive for a few days, before releasing them across the border into France - minus their valuables.

Back in London, Jeffrey performed in theatrical performances, rooted in spectacle - playing outlandish, demonic" creatures in "freakish, grotesque" scenes.

He was "the Queen's Dwarf, the permanent child, the jester"

Remember: he was still a child.

Records show Jeffrey was sexually fetishised (as many dwarf people have been and still are today.)

It was alleged he made "married men Cuckolds" and "Mothers of the maids".

This was "salacious nonsense". Very little was known about Jeffrey's sex life.

As civil war between Royalists and Parliamentarians approached, Charles I and the Queen fled London - with Jeffrey - amid serious political and social instability.

In 1642 the Queen and Jeffrey went to Holland to escape - but also to raise money for war!

In 1643, nearly a year after they left, Queen, Jeffrey and Co. returned to England.

After a failed first attempt they arrived in a small village.

Parliamentarian ships attacked it the following morning. Jeffrey took cover from bombardment until dawn arrived and escaped.

In Oxford, Jeffrey was made a Captain in the Queen's army.

It's not clear whether he did fight...

...but, if he did, it's likely this was limited to night time skirmishes and lightning raids.

In 1644 the Queen, Jeffrey and Co. left Oxford, escaping to France - via Bath and Exeter.

Jeffrey spent the next 25 years of his life in France.

In exile in France Jeffrey became increasingly frustrated with the ridicule and abuse he received, especially after all he'd been through. He'd had enough.

He let it be known he'd challenge to a duel the next man who mocked him...

...a challenge risen to immediately.

His opponent thought it was a jest.


"When you are only two feet high, it is not enough that you do things as well as the next person; you have to do things better."

Jeffrey - a small target, decent horseman, and good marksman - shot him through the head.

The Queen banished Jeffrey - supposedly to save him from reprisals rather than to punish him.

Everything he had in life he'd gained from being ridiculed.

The one time he asserted his self-respect, pride, and dignity had cost him everything.

In 1644 he left France, aged 25.

He sailed for Britain but was again captured by pirates and sold into slavery - probably in Algiers.

Jeffrey Hudson disappears for 25 years.

He was freed or rescued 25 years later in 1668. He returned to England. 

He was 50 and had spent half his life in captivity (well, arguably all his life but a captivity of a different sort).

The Queen died in France a year later. 

In 1676 Jeffrey returned to London - at a time of toxic anti-Catholic hysteria and violence.

Jeffrey, a Catholic and easily identifiable, was dragged out of his lodgings and thrown in prison.

Jeffrey was released in 1680.

He was tired, old, defeated.

It is thought he died in 1681 - probably alone, in poverty.

Source for all this information and quotes?

Nick Page's 'Lord Minimus' (biography of Jeffrey Hudson). 

What of Page's book? 

Well, it is certainly immersive. Page seems captivated by the fine details of the luxury of life in the Queen's Palace.

His language is often v problematic.

There are the usual clichés of Jeffrey "overcoming" his "physical limitations" to "live life to the full", survived more than "men twice his size", etc.

Worst is when he describes Jeffrey as a "prodigy of nature" and a "little creature".

There are many places in the book where it feels like Page is not a biographer but a Courtier himself - indulging in the grotesque spectacle of an exploited child.

He often writes from the Queen's point of view - not Jeffrey's. But he gets better at this as the book goes on.

Yes, I understand that lots people like me were kept as pets by Kings and Queens and, yes, "that was hundreds of years ago" etc., but I still would've liked to have felt Page's discomfort at the practice - rather than him reveling in the ostentatious Court life.

Did Jeffrey love the Queen? Probably.

But I feel like this is an incredibly glamourous example of Stockholm Syndrome - and Page never addresses this.

Did he want to leave? Probably not.

But the question whether he *could* have left is not really addressed.

So an extraordinary life of a remarkable man but let's not forget the fact that people like Jeffrey were not treated as equals but kept as pets for entertainment - and the power disparities and disgusting-ness of this should be acknowledged. Every. Time.


Jeffrey didn't live in France for 25 years (because he was soon sold into slavery); he didn't see *England* for 25 years.

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More from @MrEugeneGrant

Aug 10, 2018
Thread: Just finished this beautiful book in which the protagonist is a strong, powerful woman with #dwarfism - Trudi - living in Germany before, through, and after WW2.

This is the first piece of adult non-fantasy fiction I've read with a #dwarf main character.

A dwarf person in an average height town, Trudi is, in a way, an outsider, and yet central to the community, too.

As a child, she yearns to be average height - she asks the doctor for pills to make her tall, she hangs by her arms from doorways trying to stretch her body.

Children shy away from Trudi as if touching her might turn them into #dwarf people, too.

Adults act as if she is invisible and they say things they wouldn't say if other children were around. For Trudi, this is the beginning of something key...

Read 18 tweets
Jul 24, 2018

Thread: Some advice for parents when your small child sees someone with #dwarfism for the first time.

Please read, RT, and, if you yourself are a #dwarf or #disabled person,​add your own ​advice.


I can imagine you feel embarrassed right now…

...but what you do next helps set the foundations on which your child will build their understanding of #dwarfism, #disability, and difference.

The first thing to say is: don't ever encourage your child to point and laugh at people who are different. Ever.

That might ​seem​ obvious, but I've encountered parents who’ve done so - and even filmed me, too.

But these are a tiny minority, so let's move on...

Read 14 tweets
Apr 8, 2018
Thread: I have #dwarfism.

I knew who the Seven #Dwarfs were by the age of ten.

I knew who Mini Me was by 13. 

I was 31 when I learned who Benjamin Lay was. 

This is important. Please read and RT. 

Born in England 1682, Benjamin Lay was among the first known radical abolitionists. 

He was fearless, compassionate, and principled. 

He was also a #dwarf

A "living stick of dynamite", Benjamin Lay was "one of the very first to call for the abolition of slavery".

He wrote one of the world's first abolitionist books - calling for the church to cast out slave owners.

Read 14 tweets
Feb 28, 2018
Thread: following my tweet about the word "M*dget", lots of people are asking "but what do we call people with #dwarfism?". Listen close...

Please RT 1/
I promise you: the best thing to call someone with #dwarfism is *their name*.

If you don't know their name, ask yourself why you need to refer to their body before knowing who they are. This is important. 2/
3/ Know their name? Good. Then politely ask them how they like to refer to themselves.

It's for them to decide, not you. They are the author of the dictionary that defines them*

Don't know their name? See 2/.

(* I stole this from Zadie Smith)
Read 11 tweets

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