“Elephant Man” Biographer Announces Discovery of His Unmarked Grave

Burial site of Joseph Merrick had been unknown for 130 years

Author Jo Vigor-Mungovin leaves flowers at the unmarked grave of "Elephant Man" Joseph Merrick, which she recently discovered in the City of London Cemetery. (Screenshot: Twitter)
Author Jo Vigor-Mungovin leaves flowers at the unmarked grave of "Elephant Man" Joseph Merrick, which she recently discovered in the City of London Cemetery. (Screenshot: Twitter)
By Reed Richardson / May 5, 2019 11:24 am

After more than a century, the final burial site of Joseph Merrick, more commonly known as the “Elephant Man,” has been located. Jo Vigor-Mungovin, who has written a biography of the famously deformed man, just announced that she has found records of his internment in the City of London Cemetery not long after his death in 1890.


Merrick began to suffer from extreme skeletal and soft-tissue deformities after the age of five and eventually became a curiosity, traveling for a time as an exhibit in a circus. His poignant struggles to be recognized for his humanity—instead of just a physical oddity with a misshapen body—earned him worldwide renown and his story was ultimately made into an award-winning play and then a movie in 1980.

Upon his death, his skeleton was donated to the Royal London Hospital and is still on display there. But the whereabout of his soft tissue became a mystery. Vigor-Mungovin said she began to suspect Merrick’s remains might have been sent to the same graveyard as some of Jack the Ripper’s victims. After a search of several weeks, she said she found his name in the City of London Cemetery’s burial records, marked down just 13 days after his death of asphyxiation.

“Everything fits, it is too much to be a coincidence,” Vigor-Mungovin said.

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