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Chang Woo Gow (Chang Yu Sing)

(1841-1893), 'The Chinese Giant'

Sitter in 3 portraits
Born in the Canton Province, China, Gow grew to the height of 7 feet and 8.75 inches (235.5 cm) tall. Well-travelled, he was a man of exceptional intelligence, speaking at least 10 languages. Believed to be the tallest man in the world, he earned money through appearances billed as 'The Chinese Giant', becoming a popular tourist attraction. In Australia he met his second wife Catherine who bore him two sons, Edwin (born in Beijing) and Ernest (born in Paris). After appearing in Barnum and Bailey's 'Greatest Show on Earth' he tired of 30 years of travelling the world as a marvel and retired. To cure his suspected tuberculosis, the family settled in Bournemouth (1890), establishing an Oriental-bazaar and tea-room business at their home. He became a popular local 'attraction' in Bournemouth when he and his wife took walks in the evenings, now known as 'The Gentle Giant' he was always kind and friendly, but he sought a quiet life. Heartbroken at the death of his wife, he died 4 months later. Still mourning the loss of his wife, on his deathbed he requested a quiet funeral. His funeral was therefore kept a secret to prevent hundreds of onlookers from attending. He was buried in an unmarked grave alongside his wife in a coffin said to be eight and a half feet long.

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Kin Foo; Chang Woo Gow (Chang Yu Sing), by Wright & Son - NPG x197184

Kin Foo; Chang Woo Gow (Chang Yu Sing)

by Wright & Son
albumen carte-de-visite, circa 1870-1871
On display in Room 22 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG x197184

Chang Woo Gow (Chang Yu Sing), by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company - NPG Ax38467

Chang Woo Gow (Chang Yu Sing)

by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company
albumen carte-de-visite
NPG Ax38467

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Lucy Bright

21 February 2021, 13:51

Chang lived in what is now my B&B :) The Ashleigh in Bournemouth.