Edward Mordake / Mordrake

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Anonymous

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I just happened upon the story of Edward Mordake and was wondering if anyone knew if it was real or folklore/urban legend.

from: Gould, George M. & Walter L. Pyle, Anomolies and Curiosities of Medicine, New York: 1896, p.188.

The following well-known story of Edward Mordake, though taken from lay sources, is of sufficient notoriety and interest to be mentioned here:--

"One of the weirdest as well as most melancholy stories of human deformity is that of Edward Mordake, said to have been heir to one of the noblest peerages in England. He never claimed the title, however, and committed suicide in his twenty-third year. He lived in complete seclusion refusing the visits even of the members of his own family. He was a young man of fine attainments, a profound scholar, and a musician of rare ability. His figure was remarkable for its grace, and his face--that is to say, his natural face--was that of an Antinous. But upon the back of his head was another face, that of a beautiful girl, 'lovely as a dream, hideous as a devil.' The female face was a mere mask, 'occupying only a small portion of the posterior part of the skull, yet exhibiting every sign of intelligence, of a malignant sort, however.' It would be seen to smile and sneer while Mordake was weeping. The eyes would follow the movements of the spectator, and the lips would 'gibber without ceasing.' No voice was audible, but Mordake avers that he was kept from his rest at night by the hateful whispers of his 'devil twin,' as he called it, 'which never sleeps, but talks to me forever of such things as they only speak of in hell. No imagination can conceive the dreadful temptations it sets before me. For some unforgiven wickedness of my forefathers I am knit to this fiend--for a fiend it surely is. I beg and beseech you to crush it out of human semblance, even if I die for it.' Such were the words of the hapless Mordake to Manvers and Treadwell, his physicians. In spite of careful watching he managed to procure poison, whereof he died, leaving a letter requesting that the 'demon face' might be destroyed before his burial, 'lest it continues its dreadful whisperings in my grave.' At his own request he was interred in a waste place, without stone or legend to mark his grave."
 
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I've heard this the hack book I read it in said it was real but I wouldn't believe a book entitled
"The Worlds Most Famous Freaks"

but it was a sad story anyway:sob:
 

Yithian

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Could it be a sensationalised (and rather inaccurate) account of co-joined twins. Although the small face sounds alittle unlikely there are many cases of twins differing greatly in size and being joined at the head.

Hardly damning but the name 'mordake' with the 'mor' prefix makes me suspicious as does his alledged (but undefined) nobility, and of course he'd have to be gifted and then die young by his own hand. Sounds all a bit 'devil worshipping count in the tower meets jekyl and hyde'. None of this is to say, of course, that there's not a grain of truth if you can peel away the layers...

reeks of urban legend - interesting little article though.
 

MrRING

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Here are some links I found for him:

http://www.researchpubs.com/books/freakexc2.shtml

http://www.geocities.com/thirty737/medical.html
(at the bottom of the page)

http://lukepl.8m.com/freaks.html

And at this site:

http://phreeque.tripod.com/conjoined_twins.html

it says:

The famous Edward Mordake, who killed himself at the age of 23, supposedly had a second face on the back of his head. The face was that of a female and was fully functional. It even spoke to Mordake, telling him to do evil things. He finally chose suicide as an escape from this "devil twin". This story is definitely exaggerated, though it is not known whether or not Mordake existed, or whether he had two faces (see 'Diprosopus').
 

carole

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As the Ytthian says, it could be a sensationalised description of co-joined twins. That being the case, how could the second face be that of a girl??

Carole
 
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Anonymous

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Mr. R.I.N.G. said:
Here are some links I found for him:
~snip~

Thanks, I had seen some of these links but I don't think any of them clear up whether he was a real person or if the story is folkloric - even the thing I quoted itself seems to quote oral stories rather than a less subjective source.

As to how the other face could be female, I don't really know; if he really existed it could be a case that the face looked feminine, and thus was dubbed female or something.
 

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The character of Edward Mordrake was used during the Freakshow season of American Horror Story. A very different story though. To nab from the American Horror Story wiki:

A privileged 19th century English noble, Mordrake was born with a second face on the back of his head. The face would whisper depraved notions that only Mordrake could hear. He excelled at learning many refined talents, but the constant interruptions from the face drove him insane. He was committed to Bedlam Asylum, though he escaped and joined a freak show troupe. One Halloween, he was driven by the face to kill his entire coterie before killing himself.

The carnies have a superstition that any performance on Halloween, even trivial ones, risk summoning Mordrake. Once he appears, it is said he must take with him one of their number.
 

Cochise

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There is a picture of him. It looks to me like potentially a conjoined (and dead) twin. It could of course have changed expression when he moved his head, given it was on the back of his head and neck. The report I saw said it could only laugh or cry - if that refers only to expression and not actual tears and voice then it seems to me possible if extremely unlikely.
 

Naughty_Felid

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There is a picture of him. It looks to me like potentially a conjoined (and dead) twin. It could of course have changed expression when he moved his head, given it was on the back of his head and neck. The report I saw said it could only laugh or cry - if that refers only to expression and not actual tears and voice then it seems to me possible if extremely unlikely.

Didn't it whisper to him at night? Wasn't that why he went insane? This is dredging memories of reading about this as a kid.
 

EnolaGaia

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Every time this story re-surfaces on the forum I go looking for new facts or records that might overturn this finding from some years back:

Alex Boese: “Edward Mordake – A Mystery Solved”
http://hoaxes.org/weblog/comments/edward_mordake

... concluding the whole story is fiction.

I have yet to locate any source - or any mention of a source - that would indicate otherwise.

That's why this thread was moved to, and remains within, the ULs section.
 

EnolaGaia

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The Mrs has just found a blatantly fake Morkdake mummified two faced skull pic online .. when I can be arsed (to be honest), I'll post it .
Here's the skull photo to which you referred back in 2018:

mordrake-schindler-art.jpg

This is an art piece made of papier maché.
In reality, the picture represents a "gaff," or joke art piece, like the sideshow attractions of stitched-together animals made to fool the viewer. Ewart Schindler, the creator, explained he made the piece a few years ago, but it hadn't gained popularity until now.

Creating a gaff from such a popular legend seemed sensible to Schindler. "I was surprised to see that no one had done a Mordrake, so I thought I'd have a go at that," he told Newsweek. "It's papier-mâché, a traditional sort of material. I really wanted to make the piece as realistic as I could."

"Gaffs have always been fascinating, and I've tried my hand at a few, usually macabre sculptures, and fantasy creatures of one form or another," he said. Schindler graduated from Plymouth College of Art and now does art and sculpture as a hobby, although he'd like to turn it into a career.
SOURCE: https://www.newsweek.com/edward-mordrakes-mummified-head-fools-internet-actually-gaff-911179
 
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EnolaGaia

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The newspaper article that seems to have started the urban legend - a piece by poet and speculative fiction writher Charles Lotin Hildreth - appeared in 1895:

"The Wonders of Modern Science"
Charles Lotin Hildreth
Boston, Massachusetts: Boston Post
Sunday, December 8, 1895, Page 20

Mordake / Mordrake was alleged to have been (a) born in 1890 and (b) committed suicide at the age of 23 (i.e., circa 1913). Hildreth's newspaper article describes the two-face man's plight and death 18 years before the events were later alleged to have occurred.

Here's the newspaper article that apparently started it all ...

Hildreth(Mordake)-1895.jpg
 

Cochise

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Here's the skull photo to which you referred back in 2018:


This is an art piece made of papier maché.

SOURCE: https://www.newsweek.com/edward-mordrakes-mummified-head-fools-internet-actually-gaff-911179
That's not the picture I found. The one I saw (in one of those YouTube 'xx historical pictures' things) was a live or at least recently dead picture, not mummified. Trying to find it again.


Edit: Similar picture at the top of this page, though not exactly the one I saw.

https://m.facebook.com/ElsevierIndi...itten-edward-mordake-is-clai/461519103879657/

Also claimed to be a wax model.
 
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EnolaGaia

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Clarification: I was replying to Swifty, not to you or about anything you'd reported earlier.

The black and white photo you referred to is a retouched photo of a waxwork in the Panoptikum wax museum in Hamburg. A more recent color version of the figure appears at circa 1:07 in this Panoptikum ad video:

 

Cochise

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Clarification: I was replying to Swifty, not to you or about anything you'd reported earlier.

The black and white photo you referred to is a retouched photo of a waxwork in the Panoptikum wax museum in Hamburg. A more recent color version of the figure appears at circa 1:07 in this Panoptikum ad video:

That's still not the same image. And I can't find the original I saw yesterday either. But it showed a more obviously human person - more wrinkles on the face etc. I had spent some hours going through the kind of '50 images from the past that will shake you' things on YouTube. I've watched them again today, but I freely admit my attention may have wandered, and I haven't found it.

The picture I saw (which , obviously, could be faked) seems more like the prototype the other more sanitised or ghoulish images came from.
 

EnolaGaia

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That's still not the same image. And I can't find the original I saw yesterday either. But it showed a more obviously human person - more wrinkles on the face etc. ...
Are you perhaps referring to this drawing (cover art for Hollow's album Mordrake)?

Hollow-Mordrake-Cover.jpg
 

Cochise

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No, sorry. I feel a darn fool for not saving the picture, but it was something that went by in passing and I didn't realise there was this amount of history about it.
 

Naughty_Felid

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Clarification: I was replying to Swifty, not to you or about anything you'd reported earlier.

The black and white photo you referred to is a retouched photo of a waxwork in the Panoptikum wax museum in Hamburg. A more recent color version of the figure appears at circa 1:07 in this Panoptikum ad video:


The dummy of the Queen will give me some sleepless nights. :oops: Far scarier than Mordrake.
 
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