16 Aug: On Tour with the Siamese Twins
Conjoined teenagers Chang and Eng Bunker began their world tour in Boston, Massachusetts on 16th August, 1829.
‘Discovered’ by Scotsman Robert Hunter in Siam (now Thailand), the boys inspired the term ‘Siamese Twins’, despite being ethnically Chinese.
Chang was a heavy drinker, and Eng was a teetotaller – yet they shared a liver. They had faced discrimination in the US, yet became slave-owning plantation owners in North Carolina. Then they married sisters – Sarah and Adelaide Yates.
In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal the sexual side of the brothers’ relationship; explain how the ambiguity of their ethnicity enabled them to climb up through Southern society; and consider the merits of their ‘death cast’, now on display in a Philadelphia museum…
• ‘The Death of Chang and Eng, Conjoined Twins Until the Last’ (Atlas Obscura, 2013):
• ‘How the original Siamese twins had 21 children by 2 sisters (Mail Online, 2014): https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2825888/How-original-Siamese-twins-21-children-two-sisters-sharing-one-reinforced-bed.html
• ‘World Famous Conjoined Twins, Chang and Eng Bunker’ (Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, 2017):