- Originally, the tiny hero of an old nursery tale, which can be tracedback to the 16th century. Tom Thumb the Great, a burlesqueby the novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding, was first staged in London in1730. The full title was The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great; or,the Tragedy of Tragedies. The tiny figure of Tom Thumb was used to mockthe bombastic heroes of contemporary tragedy and to satirize the prime ministerof the day, Sir Robert Walpole. Other characters included Mr Noodle, Mr Doodle,Queen Dollaholla, and Mustacha. Tom becomes engaged to Princess Huncamunca but after defeating his rival Lord Grizzle, he is eaten by a cow. In the final 12 lines of the play all remaining nine characters are killed, including Tom's ghost.
General Tom Thumb was the name given to the US dwarfCharles Sherwood Stratton (1838 - 83) when first exhibited by Phineas T.Barnum. The 'General' was then under five years of age and less thantwo feet tall but eventually grew to 40 inches. When in London he was summoned to Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria and mobbed by cheering crowds. He married another US dwarf, Lavinia Warren, in 1863.