Monday, 6 January 2014

A big day for Joseph!

Not only is his story featured on BBC ONe's Inside Out, as scientists from University of St. Mary's extract DNA from his bones, but our book is out on Amazon Kindle! ! You can buy it in the UK at

and in the US at

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Our book and education

We would dearly like to see our book, 'Measured By The Soul: The Life of Joseph Carey Merrick', used in education, either as a teaching medium, or simply made available on school / college / university bookshelves, as a reference material.

If you believe you can, or would like to, help in this regard, please do get in touch, we would very much like to hear from you.

With best wishes
Jeanette Sitton
Founder & Chair

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The book is also available on EBay! Each beautiful copy is signed by one of the authors, Mae Siu-Wai Stroshane.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Dear 'Friends of Joseph Carey Merrick' (FoJCM) and esteemed visitors,

I would respectfully remind you of this Blog's raison d'ĂȘtre, to:

  • research fact; 
  • participate in serious Joseph-related discussion and, 
  • contribute factual information. 

As this Blog is directly linked from the Joseph Carey Merrick Tribute website, we must at all times keep our feet well grounded in fact, for otherwise, the website and FoJCM's reputation will suffer. You'll understand that, I can't allow that to happen.  I would prefer to remove this Blog altogether, rather than besmirch the reputation of the Tribute site or the FoJCM.

Please keep these things in mind, when posting to this Blog site.

I thank you for your understanding,
My love, as always,
Jeanette Sitton
Founder and Chair, Friends of Joseph Carey Merrick

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Following in Joseph's Footsteps

Last week I had the joy and honor of retracing Joseph's footsteps, from Whitechapel London and the Royal London Hospital, to the lovely English countryside manor where he spent three peaceful holidays. Although the city is modern and bustling, not riddled with slums and smokestacks, there is a definite Victorian feel to some of the older train stations and buildings. Jeanette Sitton, founder of this website, met me at Heathrow International Airport, and guided me every step of the way, snapping dozens of photos after my camera broke. We came through Liverpool Street Station, where the famous glass ceilings still exist as seen in the "ELephant Man" movie. It's a bustling, crowded place. One can imagine Joseph being overwhelmed and mobbed by a curious crowd. I was staying at a comfortable bed & breakfast in Whitechapel, directly across from the Royal London Hospital. That was a thrill in itself! We explored the neighborhood and went to the shop where Joseph had been exhibited as "The ELephant Man." It is right across from the hospital and now specializes in Indian saris and jewelry. The kind owner allowed us to see where Joseph would have displayed himself and lived between showings. During my stay, we visited the Museum Archives, which houses Joseph's actual hat and mask, his cardboard church, his letter to Leila Maturin, and a replica of his skeleton. It's all very tastefully arranged in the glass case. Joseph's bones speak so eloquently of his pain and suffering. They are twisted and warped to impossible angles, there are bony knobs and the head is oversized. The left hand is so very small and delicate. He must have had great patience and dexterity to do the things he did. The left hip joint basically doesn't exist. There is no ball and socket. Alas, hip replacements were invented only a few years after he did, but it might not have helped much. It was a miracle he could walk at all. On Monday, we were treated to an excursion by train to Fawsley Hall, where Lady Louisa Knightly had hosted Joseph. Set on 2,000 acres of rolling green farmland, it must have felt like paradise. Emma-Jane Hartley joined us there and kindly drove us around the villages and farms. The three of us
took tea in the great Tudor-era hall of the Knightley family, and then went tromping in the woods where Joseph strolled near Redhill Farm. It was easy to imagine Joseph peacefully savoring the sun and fresh country air. All this was a wonderful way to retrace vital moments in Joseph's life, but the main reason for my crossing the pond was to be interviewed by BBC Radio Leicester and BBC TV's science program, "Inside/Out" which will air in a few months. Jeanette and I both talked about Joseph's story and legacy, and what he means to all of us. It was a whirlwind trip of three days in the UK, one I shan't soon forget!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Joseph Merrick and Isaac Watts

Joseph has become famous for quoting from a poem called 'False Greatness," by English hymn writer, Isaac Watts. At first the whole poem was thought to be by Joseph.

'Tis true my form is something odd

But blaming me is blaming God

Could I create myself anew

I would not fail in pleasing you.

If I could reach from pole to pole

Or grasp the ocean with my span

I would be measured by the soul

The mind's the standard of the man.""

Then, in their book, "The True History of the Elephant Man," Michael Howell & Peter Ford figured out that Joseph had borrowed from "False Greatness" and changed the wording slightly to suit his strong sense of self-dignity. Well, it turns out that Joseph probably did write the first four lines himself. I've discovered that they don't appear in "False Greatness" at all!

Isaac Watts, like Joseph, was a small man in delicate health most of his life but he had a fiery spirit, and started a revolution in church music. He was sick of hearing the same old psalms every week, so he wrote hundreds of new hymns that we still sing today, like "Joy to the World" and "O God Our Help in Ages Past."

Here's Isaac Watts' version of the lines from "False Greatness":

Were I so tall to reach the pole,

Or grasp the ocean with my span,

I must be measur’d by my soul

The mind’s the stan­dard of the man

Thia is powerful stuff. It must have meant a lot to Joseph.