I was kind of intimidated because of what I thought the mumbling might have been, but I talk faster than I think sometimes and who was going to help her if not me, so I said "Actually, I majored in history in college. Maybe I can help."
The patron said she's a student of the history of slavery and somehow she'd heard about "this woman who was taken to the U.K. and made into a madam, or a prostitute or some kind of thing. Men would come to stare at her because they had never seen a black person before. She had a huge booty, I mean huge. Her name was Sarah-something. She had, like, the biggest booty. This was the 19th century."
I started looking around on Google, but to be honest I didn't expect to find anything, or at least anything credible. We get a lot of eccentric claims and alternate histories, and I thought that this was one of them. Not because Europeans didn't do absolutely insane things to black people in the 19th century (among other centuries), but because of the weird emphasis on this woman's butt.
However, I found this history blog, which led me to a book called African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus by Rachel Holmes, and included this picture:
|(A public domain image from Wikimedia Commons)|
She brought me my only really interesting question during an exhausting Saturday desk shift, so she is definitely this week's patron of the week!