Case of Edward Mordrake: Sad Story Of The Man With Two Faces

Edward Mordake is a urban legend that tells the story of a 19th century English royal heir who had a face on the back. Legend has it that the face can cry, laugh, whisper or laugh. Mordake begged doctors to remove the face, saying it was telling him bad things at night. Mordake, then 23, committed suicide. According to one account, Mordake had “extraordinary grace” and a face similar to that of an Antinous (Greek youth from Bithynia and a favorite and probable lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian).

The human face on the back of Mordake’s head, allegedly female, had a pair of eyes and a salivating mouth. The copy face was said to “sneer while Mordake was joyful” and “smile while Mordake was crying.” As per legend, Mordake urged doctors to consider removing his “demon face,” stating that it whispered things that “one would only talk about that in hell” at night, but no doctor would do it. Mordake then isolated the copy face in a room before deciding to kill himself at 23. Let’s see what was the Case of Edward Mordrake.

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Edward Mordrake’s Sad Story

One of the strangest and most depressing stories of a living person’s malformations is that of Edward Mordake, who was said to be the prince of one of England’s worthiest hereditary peers. He was unable to claim the honor, and attempted suicide in his twenty third year. He was unable to receive even a visit from his family and lived in complete isolation. He was a young man with great accomplishments, a deep scholar and a talented musician. His figure was beautiful and elegant, and his face — that is to say, his normal face — was that of an Antinous (informed above). But there was a second face on the back of his head, that of a beautiful girl, “pretty as a dream, horrible as a devil.”The female face was merely a disguise, “taking up only a small amount of the posterior portion of the head, yet displaying every characteristic of intelligence, though somewhat of a malicious kind.”

While Mordake was crying she could be seen smiling, laughing and laughing. The eyes would accompany the spectator’s motions, and the lips “would blabber constantly.” No voice could be heard, but Mordake claims that the hate speech whispers of his “devil twin,” as he called it, kept him awake at night, “talking to me indefinitely of such things as they only speak of in Hell.” No imagination can begin to imagine the terrifying urges it places before me. I am bound to this demon — and it is a demon — for some unforgiven evil deeds of my ancestors. I beg you to smash it out of human sort of understanding, even if it means killing me.” Such were the words of the helpless Mordake to his doctors, Manvers and Treadwell.


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Despite careful surveillance, he was able to obtain poison, from which he died, leaving a written request that the “demon face” be destructed before his cremation, “because it might resume its truly awful murmurings in my final resting place.” He was buried in a waste place at his own request, with no stone or legend to label his grave.

Initial Mentions, Anomalies & Curiosities of Medicine

The first documented description of Mordake is found in an 1895 article published in The Boston Post by Charles Lotin Hildreth, a fiction writer. The article mentions a variety of “human freaks,” including a woman with a fishtail, a man with the body of a spider, a man who was half-crab, and Edward Mordake. Hildreth claimed that he discovered these cases in old reports of the “Royal Scientific Society.” Based on a USA Today article, Jordanian monarchs established the only known “Royal Scientific Society” in 1970. Nothing was found in the records of the similarly-sounding Royal Society of London. Hildreth’s article, like many others at the time, was probably released by the daily paper to intrigue readers’ interest. Dr. George M. Gould and David L. Pyle authored the 1896 medical encyclopedia Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine. It included a discussion of Mordake.

The account was lifted word for word from Hildreth’s article and traced back solely to a “lay source.” The encyclopedia described the basic morphological characteristics of Mordake’s condition, but no clinical diagnosis was provided for this condition. One explanation for the birth defect is a craniopagus parasiticus structure (a parasitic twin head and undeveloped body), a type or diprosopus, or an aggressive form conjoined Twin.

Two-faced Hoax_Ripleys

Two-faced Hoax_Ripleys


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