9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life

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A person who learned to play football despite the fact that he had a third leg, twins who lived and never talked to anyone except each other, a man who had 24 separate personalities — the names of these people should be synonyms for “incredible.” But still, their stories are real and continue to amaze people.

Bright Side is convinced that this world is full of incredible people but today we would like to tell you about the lives of the most unusual ones.

“The Man of the Woods” Petrus Gonsalvus

Everyone knows the tale about the Beauty and the Beast who fell in love with each other. But few people have heard that this story actually had real prototypes. It all began in 1537 in Tenerife when an unusual baby was born: his entire body was covered with hair.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Petrus Gonsalvus / unknown author

The parents thought that their child had a demonic disease (nobody knew about hypertrichosis back then) and when small Petrus turned 10, they sold him to French pirates. They called him “The Man of the Woods” and presented him to Henri II, the King of France.

Henri II noticed that the unusual boy was quite smart and that he was learning the French language pretty quickly. The king made sure that Petrus received a good education. After Henri II died, his wife Catherine de Médici took care of Petrus. According to some sources, she even initiated the wedding of Petrus. His wife was a beautiful Queen’s Lady named Catherine.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Petrus Gonsalvus et Catherine / Joris Houfnage

Despite the fact that this couple was obviously different from most families, they always had a strong marriage. They had 6 children, 4 of which inherited their father’s features. The most famous descendants of Petrus and Catherine are girls Magdalena and Antoinette.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Maddalena (Madeleine) Gonzales / unknown author   © Portrait d’Antonietta / Lavinia Fontana

Magdalena Gonsalvus and Antoinette Gonsalvus

But after the death of Catherine de Médici, the Gonsalvus family fell out of favor of the “Cour de France” and couldn’t stay there any longer. So, Petrus took his family to Italy where they lived under the protection of Margaret of Parma.

After some time, the family moved to Viterbo where Petrus died at the age of 81 (which was a very long life back then).

The story of Petrus was not only the reason behind the story of “Beauty and the Beast” but also what moved scientists to study hypertrichosis.

“3-Legged Football Player” Francesco Lentini

Francesco was born in Italy in 1889. He could have had a twin brother but something went wrong and his twin’s body fused to Francesco’s spinal cord. In the end, he was born with 3 legs.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Frank Lentini / Edena Studios

Francesco had 11 brothers and sisters but all of them looked normal. His parents soon refused to raise their special boy and gave him to his aunt who later sent him to an orphanage for disabled children.

Francesco said that before this moment he thought he was the unhappiest child in the world but when he saw children who couldn’t hear or speak or were mentally incapacitated, he realized that his problem was not as serious because it allowed him to enjoy the beauty of the world.

So, the boy decided to learn to use his body. He learned to ride a bike and play football. And at the age of 8, he went to the US where he grew up and became a circus performer.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Frank Lentini / unknown author

The shows of the 3-legged man were very popular and Francesco decided to use it to help people deal with their problems. He wrote an autobiography that he sold at his shows.

In the book, he wrote about how he learned to live with his problem and explained how he made the best of it by becoming a performer.

“I buy a regular pair of shoes and one more shoe I buy from a guy I know who lost his leg.”

Additionally, Francesco tried to figure out what could lead to this problem and shared his findings with women, telling them what they shouldn’t do during pregnancy.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Frank Lentini / unknown author   © Frank Lentini / unknown author

At the age of 30, Francesco became a US citizen and got married to Theresa Murrey. They had 4 healthy children. Francesco died at the age of 77. He continued to do shows for his entire life.

Incredibly smart child, Christian Heinrich Heineken

This boy, who is still called a child prodigy, was born in 1721 in Lübeck, Germany. His father, Paul Heineken, was an artist and architect and his mother was an artist and alchemist named Catharina HeinekenWhen he was just 10 months old, he could already speak by repeating names of objects and sometimes even sentences.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Christian Heinrich Heineken / Catharina Elisabeth Heinecken

Christian Heinrich Heineken in an engraving created by his mother

He had a phenomenal memory and according to witnesses, at the age of one he could quote the New Testament in Latin. At the age of 3, he gave a lecture about Danish history in the times of Frederick IV. And his lecture was so detailed and interesting that even courtiers were delighted by this tiny genius.

Unfortunately, Christian only lived to be 4 years old because he had Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) that wasn’t studied back then and his parents continuously fed him cereal.

A couple of giants, Martin and Anna Bates

Do you think it’s easy to find a husband for a girl who is 7’5″ tall? And find someone who looks good with her? No, it’s not. But Anna, who was born in 1846 in Canada, managed to do it.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Collections Canada

Anna with her parents

She was born to a regular family: her parents, brothers, and sisters were all of average height. But at the age of 15, Anna was 6’8″ tall. She weighed around 220 lbs and had huge feet. Anna was a very nice woman despite her scary size.

When she was 25, she fell in love with circus performer Martin Bates. He was also born into a family where everyone was of average height but when he was 6 he started growing rapidly and at the age of 14 he was already 6’8″ tall.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© MartinVanBurenBates / unknown author   © Anna Haining Bates / unknown author

When Martin and Anna met, Bates was 7’6″ tall, and according to witnesses, she was even taller (even though she was 9 years younger).

They got married. Both of them were creative people and everyone remembered them not because of their height, but because of their talent for acting and music.

The couple tried to have children twice. On May 19 1872, Anna had a daughter who weighed more than 17 lbs and died immediately and 7 years later they had a son who weighed more than 22 lbs. He only lived for 11 hours, but according to his father, he was perfect.

9 years later, Anna had a heart attack and died and Martin remarried. This time, he chose a woman of average height.

24 personalities in one person: William Stanley Milligan

William Milligan had a rare psychological disorder which made him have 24 full-fledged personalities who were not responsible for each other’s actions. William himself could only control his personality (Billy) but not the others.

Among Billy’s personalities, there were strong ones that knew about the others and could even control them and weak ones who couldn’t control anything. There were personalities that helped him deal with certain tasks and problems and there were the ones that had destructive goals.

In his mind, there were men and women, adults and children, and people at different level intelligence levels who had different accents and characteristics. And not all of them were friendly. Some of them even committed crimes that lead Billy to court.

The judge who listened to the opinions of experts didn’t sentence Billy to jail. Instead, he was sent for psychiatric treatment. Billy spent 10 years at the psychiatric clinic and at the end was given a clean bill of mental health by his psychotherapists. After he was freed, Billy created a small movie production company that went bankrupt after not having released a single movie.

Soon after that, Billy stopped communicating with everyone he knew and moved away. It is known that he died in a nursing home at the age of 59.

“The Camel Girl” Ella Harper

Ella was very beautiful. Unfortunately the first thing people saw was not her pretty face but the strange disease she had. She was born with recurved knees, so they bent in the opposite direction as normal knees. The only way she could get around was on all fours.

9 People Who Could Be Characters in Fiction Books — but They Existed in Real Life
© Ella Harper / unknown autor

At the age of 12, she joined the Harris’ Nickel Plate Circus program where she was nicknamed “The Camel Girl.” On all advertisements, she was described as a beautiful woman who walked like a camel. Ella made $200 a week (which is equivalent to about $5,000 now).

At the age of 16, Ella decided to leave the show and go to school. When she was 35, Ella got married and she got pregnant soon after the wedding. She had a daughter that died before the age of one for unknown reasons. When Ella was 48, she and her husband adopted a newborn girl but she also died when she was just 3 months old.

3 years later, Ella died and was buried next to her children.

“The Silent Twins” June and Jennifer Gibbons

In Barbados in 1963, twins June and Jennifer Gibbons were born. They were later called “The Silent Twins.” The girls seemed to be mute to others: they were very quiet and didn’t communicate with anyone and this wasn’t all that was strange.

After moving to Wales, the girls’ parents realized that they weren’t actually mute. They communicated with each other using a language only they could understand. They tried to separate the girls and even sent them to different schools to make them communicate with other people. But it only made the situation worse, and when June and Jennifer returned home, they protected themselves from the outside world even more.

They spent all their time in their room where they wrote a lot. They created poems and stories (most of them had terrible plots) and they wrote in their diary every day. When they got tired of writing about other people’s crimes, they started committing their own. They committed arson several times and also committed assault on ordinary people.

One of June’s stories, “The Pepsi-Cola Addict”

A judge decided to send the girls to a hospital for psychiatric treatment. The girls were separated but the staff were spooked because they still managed to behave in an identical way: they were even in the same poses in the cells at the same time.

A journalist named Marjorie Williams fought for the girls for 11 years and in the end she finally helped to transfer the twins to a regular hospital. Before moving, Jennifer told her, “Marjorie, Marjorie, I’m going to have to die.” After the interview she was asked why and she said, “Because we decided to.” And she actually died.

June as a teenager

According to the journalist, one of the girls had to die to let the other one live freely. Because as it turned out, they had a very difficult and complicated relationship. They both loved and hated each other and they wrote about this in their diaries.

But this sister of mine, a dark shadow robbing me of sunlight, is my one and only torment, we have become fatal enemies in each other’s eyes.” Jennifer wrote. “We feel the irritating deadly rays come out of our bodies, stinging each other’s skin. I say to myself, can I get rid of my own shadow — impossible or not? Without my shadow, would I die? Without my shadow, would I gain life, be free, or be left to die? Without my shadow, which I identify with a face of misery, deception, murder.”

After her sister’s death, June started communicating with their relatives and even worked at a charity store for a short time.

There are a lot of amazing people in the history of humanity. Which incredible people should be included on this list in your opinion? Tell us in the comment section below!

Preview photo credit Ella Harper / unknown autor

Credit: brightside.me

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