Rose Foster, born severely disabled with four malformed limbs, made a living by appearing on postcards and exhibiting herself at shows and fairs. Rosina Kate, as she was christened, was born in Highfield in 1884. Despite her severe disabilities and the total lack of support then available to her working-class parents, she appears to have had a fairly happy childhood. She learned to feed and dress herself and even learned to write, holding a pencil between her toes. A surviving postcard informs us that she was just 26 inches tall; another shows her knitting.

The family left Highfield in the 1890s and Rose may have been exhibiting herself from this early date. A poster of 1910 reveals that she had already enjoyed eight consecutive seasons with the Barnum and Bailey show. In the 1920s she told an American magazine that she had travelled to all parts of the British Isles, Europe, North America and Brazil.

From about 1937, after giving up touring with ‘novelty’ shows, she went to live with her sister at 12 Belmont Road, Portswood. Rose probably died there some time before 1959.

Rose Foster

Image Unavailable

A postcard produced by S A Chandler & Co. of Southampton and Exeter, c.1905


Further reading:
‘Rose Foster - A Remarkable Little Lady’, by A. G. K. Leonard, in Southampton Local History Forum Journal, no12, Summer 2007, p35-39. (HS/h)


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