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The Real Story of Edward Mordrake: The Man with Two Faces

Edward Mordrake, often referred to as the “man with two faces,” was reportedly a 19th-century heir to an English peerage. According to legend, he had an extra face on the back of his head, which could neither eat nor speak, although it could laugh and cry.

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Edward allegedly begged doctors to remove his “demon head” because it whispered sinister things to him at night, but no doctor would attempt the risky procedure. The story concludes with Mordrake committing suicide at the age of 23.

He was said to have been the heir to one of the noblest peerages in England. He never claimed the title, however.

He reportedly lived in complete seclusion, refusing visits even from his own family. His case was incredibly strange, and he believed that the best way to live his life was to stay away from the public.

Wax sculpture of Edward

The Origins of the Legend

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The story of Edward Mordrake first gained widespread attention in the late 19th century. The primary source of the tale is an entry in the 1896 book “Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine,” authored by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle.

They described Mordrake’s condition as one of the most severe deformities ever recorded, highlighting the peculiarity of having two faces on opposite sides of one head.

The book presented the story as a factual case study, which contributed to the legend’s credibility.

An image on social media purportedly shows the mummified skull of Edward Mordrake, a man said to have been born with two-faces. The claim, however, is false. The image shows a papier-mâché sculpture by the artist Ewart Schindler.

Excerpt from a book:

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“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.

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“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.

Culture

The tale of Edward Mordrake has been perpetuated and embellished over time, particularly through its portrayal in various media. The television series “American Horror Story: Freak Show” featured a character based on Mordrake, introducing the legend to a new generation and cementing its place in popular culture.

This dramatized portrayal, while not historically accurate, highlights the enduring intrigue surrounding Mordrake’s story.

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Tom Waits also contributed to the legend’s cultural footprint with his song “Poor Edward,” featured on his album “Alice.” The song narrates Mordrake’s tragic story, further popularizing the myth.

Medical Anomalies and The Question of Authenticity

From a medical perspective, the condition attributed to Edward Mordrake resembles a rare congenital disorder known as diprosopus, or craniofacial duplication. Diprosopus involves the duplication of facial features and is extremely rare.

Most cases result in severe deformities and are typically fatal shortly after birth. The detailed description of Mordrake’s secondary face, which allegedly could smile, sneer, and whisper, stretches the boundaries of known medical science. There are no documented cases of a fully functional second face with the capabilities described in Mordrake’s story.

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Despite its detailed nature, the authenticity of Edward Mordrake’s story remains highly questionable. There are no verified medical records or historical documents to confirm his existence.

Researchers argue that the tale is a product of the era’s fascination with medical oddities and the public’s appetite for sensational stories. The absence of concrete evidence, such as birth or death certificates, medical reports, or credible eyewitness accounts, casts significant doubt on the veracity of the legend.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of anomalien.com, a website he created in 2013.