Edward Mordrake: The Man With Two Faces
Edward Mordake (or Edward Mordrake) was reportedly the 19th century heir to an English peerage.
He supposedly had an extra face on the back of his head, which could neither eat nor speak, although it could laugh and cry.
Edward begged doctors to have his "demon head" removed, because, supposedly, it whispered satanist language to him at night, but no doctor would attempt it.
He committed suicide "in his 23rd year.
Edward's case was weird, bizarre and yet interesting. It was revered as one of the worst case of deformity- not because he has two heads, but two faces on the opposite side of one head!
He was 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 was said to have lived in complete seclusion, refusing the visits even of the members of his own family. How could you? His case was bizarre beyond belief and thought the best way to live his life was stay away from the public, the public from him.
"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 been 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."
That was the mind-boggling story of Edward Mordrake. There aren't many evidence that his history was true or false, but many have talked about it for ages. Unfortunately, many of his pictures do not exist, or records of them were not properly kept.
Edward Mordake (sometimes spelled Mordrake) was, so the story goes, heir to an English peerage, but this inheritance brought him no comfort because he was cursed with a terrible deformity — a second face on the back of his head. This "devil twin" possessed a kind of hateful intelligence. It never slept but instead whispered constantly of "such things as they only speak of in hell." Driven mad by this demon companion, Mordake committed suicide at the age of 23, leaving behind instructions that the demon face should be destroyed before his burial, "lest it continues its dreadful whisperings in my grave."
Many people are introduced to the story of Mordake by a photograph said to be of him that has circulated online for many years. This photo is often accompanied by a caption that briefly summarizes his unfortunate life.
However, this isn't a photograph of the actual Mordake. Instead, it's a photo of a wax replica created by an artist to show what Mordake might have looked like. Where this wax figure was displayed, or by whom it was created, I'm not sure, but various replicas of Mordake have been created over the years for wax museums around the world.
Mordake has popped up in other places in contemporary popular culture. He's the subject of a song by Tom Waits, "Chained Together For Life." There's also an opera about him — Mordake by Erling Wold. Recently he was featured as a character in several episodes of the TV series American Horror Story: Freak Show. And a movie about him is reported to be in development.
So the story of Mordake has certainly appealed to the popular imagination. But one question remains unanswered. Was Mordake a real person?
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