She believed that she was born armless because her father, an alcoholic, came home from the pub with his coat thrown over his shoulders without his arms in the sleeves, and that her mother saw this image while pregnant with Ann. Popular souvenirs from her appearances were personally foot-written messages on the backs of cabinet photos, along with her autograph. These included clever couplets such as "So you perceive it's really true, when hands are lacking, toes will do" (this couplet was also used by Lizzie Sturgeon Brown, "The Pedal Pianist", a woman born with withered and useless arms who performed as a sort of variation on the armless wonder), and homilies such as "Indolence and ease are the rust of the mind." In 1871 Ann wrote an autobiography which she sold at her shows.
Ann married William R. Thompson when she was in her forties - very late in life by Victorian standards. She gave birth to her son, William George M. Thompson, on February 18, 1878, while touring Australia for the second time with the Cooper & Bailey Circus. While in Australia, the Armless Wonder proved herself to be an excellent swimmer, to the surprise and delight of her colleagues. She was with the Barnum & Bailey Circus as late as 1888, but it is unknown when she died or what became of her in her later years.
"Miss Leak, in presenting this, her autobiography, to the public, feels no little delicacy at seeking, to make the deprivation which she suffers in the entire absence of arms at her birth, the occasion of gain to her, by gratifying the eye, oftentimes, of a curious public; though, averse to it at first, and till circumstances, changing, necessitated such a course. She can, in this way, nevertheless, best meet obligations which she owes to herself and to her aged parents, in a measure dependent on her endeavors, and confidently trusts that the motive which thus actuates her will stay any cold look of indifference, and draw forth the sympathy and consideration of every heart that witnesses her operations, or to whom this little volume may come." - Preface to Autobiography of Miss Ann E. Leak, 1871 (Bogdan).