The Greatest Elephant in the World
Steerforth Press, Paperback, 9781586421502, 224pp.
Publication Date: February 3, 2009
Jumbo was a superstar of the Victorian era. Every day tens of thousands of people would visit this adored animal known as “the Children’s Pet” at the London Zoo. When P.T. Barnum purchased him for his Greatest Show on Earth, Jumbo’s transport to the United States made headlines for weeks. In North America, Jumbo became an instant sensation, and his name entered our lexicon as an adjective for oversized things. A half century after his death his still-famous and unrivalled popularity was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Dumbo.
But the story behind the story is more gripping than one could possibly imagine. Jumbo’s moving and surprisingly complex relationship with a junior zookeeper named Matthew Scott is told here for the first time using newly discovered archival material, including Scott’s own diaries. Chambers’ compelling account of Jumbo’s secret history enhances an already magnificent legend.
"'Under the Radar' Top Ten — One of the best books of 2008 you might have missed." — Kirkus Reviews
“This gentle, well-wrought book takes readers to thrilling places.” – The Washington Times
“In what could perhaps be called a tell-all biography, Paul Chambers explores the sad but remarkable life of the most famous circus elephant ever in his fascinating, carefully researched account. “ – The Christian Science Monitor
“Highly recommended.” – Library Journal (starred review)