Marcella, the Midget Queen
U 16.849-50: Giants, though that is a far cry, you see once in a way, Marcella, the Midget Queen. In those waxworks in Henry street myself saw some Aztecs.
FW 112.28 She may be a mere marcella, this midget madgetcy.
Aztecs were popular in waxworks, but there was only one Marcella, the Midget Queen. She appeared at the ‘World’s Fair Waxwork Exhibition’, run by Charles Augustus James, at 30 Henry Street, from 1893.
James was an Englishman, born in Redditch near Birmingham. At the time of the 1881 census in England he and his wife, son, and daughter were living in the ‘Auction Van’ on the Market Ground at Claylane in Derbyshire, where he is described as an ‘auctioneer’.
A hardware shop and waxworks in Henry Street
By 1891 James and his family left England, and in the early 1890s they appear in Dublin. James established a hardware and fancy business in Henry Street – and, using his market-trader’s expertise, named it after the upcoming World’s Fair in Chicago and advertised everything for 6½d.
The introduction of Marcella to her public
By the end of June 1892 Charles James was planning to utilize the rest of the premises at No 30, which was on four floors and included a small theatre under the roof. It was in these rooms that he established his waxworks (‘mostly illustrating Irish history or sentiment’, according to the Era of 18 September 1897), and it was here that he encouraged the population of Dublin to catch a glimpse of Marcella, the Midget Queen.
On 29 June 1893 the Freeman’s Journal shows how James introduced Marcella to Dubliners:
Was Marcella a waxwork statue or a real person? The mystery was revealed (or was it?) in the next Freeman’s advertisement:
James’s entertainment was popular. It was regularly noticed over the next few years in the Era, one of the main entertainment newspapers in Britain and Ireland. As late as 1899 the uncertainty remained in some quarters over whether Marcella was a real person or not. In June of that year James’s premises were broken into. James found myself explaining the nature of his business to the judge:
Mr James’s philanthropy: treats and an adoption
Marcella, the Midget Queen was indeed a real person. Charles James was not only a trader but a philanthropist. As his business thrived he became famous in Dublin for the annual New Year treats which he gave to some of the City’s poor:
This was a practice which continued under the terms of his will for years after his death.
As well as contributing charitably to the life of the City, James and his wife also adopted a small girl, Elizabeth Ellen Paddock. Elizabeth, or ‘Lizzie’, was also English – she had been born in Liverpool in 1877, to George and Elizabeth Paddock, a boot closer and his wife. In the 1881 census the family were living at No 4 Bolton Street in Liverpool. But seven years later George Paddock died. The 1891 England census saw the family living at 10 Edward Street, Liverpool, looked after by their mother Elizabeth (now 40). But within two years, in 1893, Elizabeth too was dead and the five children must have been in despair.
Several months later, in 1893, we first find Marcella the Midget Queen in Dublin. The Irish Times of 6 December 1941 describes Marcella at the time:
She sang in the little theatre at the top of 30 Henry Street, over the waxworks, and sometimes she helped out in the shop below, assisting with the selling, ‘seated high up behind a counter’ (Irish Independent (1959) 7 November).
Marcella and Phoebe James/Zorn
Elizabeth Ellen Paddock was ‘Marcella’. The 1901 Ireland census shows her living with the Jameses at 36 Strand road, East Pembroke, in Dublin, with Charles, his wife Minnie, their son Ernest and daughter Phoebe Elizabeth. Phoebe and Elizabeth/Marcella were inseparable. By 1911 Phoebe has married Victor Zorn, and they had moved back to England. On census night Elizabeth Paddock was a visitor at their home at 6 Oak Avenue, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Lancashire. An acquaintance wrote to the Irish Times thirty years later (4 October 1941):
It seems that Elizabeth Paddock died in South Dublin in early 1955, at the age of 77, remembered by some, jotted down in the Cyclops notesheets (episode technique ‘gigantism’) and commemorated in passing in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.
Images: ‘The Midget Queen’ in Irish Times (1941) 6 December, p. 10
For further information on Marcella see also Tim Conley's note "Marcella the Midget Queen", in James Joyce Quarterly Volume 48, Number 1, Fall 2010, pp. 149-53 (published 15 May, 2012).