Poor Edward

Edward Mordrake was reportedly a 19th century heir to an English peerage that was born with a second face on the back of his head. Removal of the face was impossible without killing him. The story goes that the face could not speak, but its eyes would follow people's faces and its mouth could tremble and whimper. Edward said the face would talk to him in the night and torment him, and apparently when he would cry the face would sneer or smile. Eventually it grew too much and Edward killed himself by putting a bullet between the eyes of his 'devil-twin.' Edward left behind a letter requesting that the ‘demon face’ be destroyed before his burial, ‘lest it continues its dreadful whisperings in my grave.’

In some versions of the story the face is that of a girl, such as Tom Waits' retelling go the story in the song Poor Edward from his record Alice – where he twists it a little and uses it to express the themes of love, lust, romantic obsession and destruction that permeate the entire record. It's one of my favourites of his, although it's not the sort of thing you throw on the stereo on a lazy Sunday morning. He has a new record coming out soon. !

Below is a picture of a wax rendering of Edward made long after his demise. Its accuracy is dubious. The interwebs would have you believe this is a photo of Edward himself, but do a little digging and you soon find that no such photo exists. The entire story is somewhat dubious. Parasitic twins are definitely real, but the twin and the host are always the same sex, and the fact that there is precious little literature about this case from the time of the events, combined with the fantastical nature of the story, would lead one to believe that the facts have become distorted and exaggerated over time in the service of a good yarn. Not that I'm complaining.

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Rayna said...

Yes the story is dubious. However the point about the twin and host being the same sex is moot. If the story was true, the face was male - what is sex but based on chromosomes? That face had the same chromosomes as Mordrake, shared the same penis. It is more accurate to say that, if it existed, it simply looked feminine. And so was taken to be 'female' - but it never was.

Either way, I wish the story was true, because it sounds cool! But don't tell Tim Burton, but it also sounds like it's perfect for another boring Burton/Depp outing. (Or is that just me?)