003: Abomah “the African Giantess” [modified 3 Mar 2010]
Abomah the African Giantess was an entertainer in 1900s Britain, for the format of the postcard is of that era. But I had not traced any of her appearances when completing my Black Edwardians: Black People in Britain 1901-1914 (1998). Later I came across a book that mentioned she was in Norwich in July or August 1914.
Google “Abomah” and details of her years in Australia appear – Perth August 1904 en route to Melbourne; Hobart November 1904 and in May 1905; Opening at the Queens Hall, Pitt Street in Sydney on 15 April 1905, and mentioned in the Argus (Melbourne) in October 1906.
A New Zealand book dealer’s site reproduces a ca.1902 English programme for Earl’s Court, London. Ray White read this page and alerted me to the New Zealand National Library’s site of newspapers (paperspast.natlib.govt.nz) which came up with 246 hits for “Abomah”. The Otago Witness 28 Sept 1904 named her as Ella Abomah and towards the southern end of South Island, the Southland Times of Invercargill reported her appearances there in December 1904. She was in North Island’s Wellington in February 1905, New Plymouth and Taranaki in March 1905, visiting Auckland. When in Nelson in December 1905 she was the “coloured giantess” born in Carolina. She was in Greymouth in January 1906, and spent Christmas 1907 in Wellington.
It seems that Tit-Bits (London) 7 September 1900 said she was on her way to Liverpool. She seems to have been presented in Blackpool in 1901-1902, and was touring the English music halls in 1914. She was at Coney Island in 1917 then joined a freak display into 1925. Dismissing show business hype, she seems to have been born in South Carolina around 1862, had married and had children. There were several photographs of her, one as above but with ‘gientess’, and a biographical leaflet.
Her activities in Britain remain very vague.
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Many thanks to Ray White.