In the 19th century, there’s a noble man named Edward Mordake (Mordrake) who was born with unusual deformity. An extremely rare condition called diprosopus in which parts or all of the face are being duplicated on the head.
The origin of Edward Mordake’s story has been lost to history. His unusual case occurred early in medical history and only passed down through generations, mainly by re-telling. His story is still a mystery to modern researchers as no medical records have been found, not even his date of birth and death are recorded.
There are many version of Mordake’s tale. However, it always begins the same way. It is said that Mordake was actually the heir of one of the noblest families in England. He was an intelligent, charming and good-looking man when viewed from the front…but on the back of his head lies a second face, twisted and evil.
Mordake’s existence was attested by the 1896 Medical Encyclopedia: AnomaliesandCuriosities of Medicine authored by Dr. George M. Gould and Dr. Walter L. Pyle. In the said publication, it is told that Edward’s extra face was a beautiful girl who couldn’t eat nor speak, but possessed its own intelligence and was quite malignant in its intentions. According to the legend his evil twin smiled and sneer while Edward was weeping and the eyes would follow the movements of people around him.
However, there is no evidence that it actually expressed those emotions. Some even stated that it is impossible for the second face to be a woman as all parasitic twins are always of the same s.ex, which is indeed true.
To make the story more interesting, it is said that the mysterious face seemed to be speaking but no voice was audible. Somehow, Mordake could hear it whispering terrifying things to him at night. Because of the hateful whispers of his evil twin he begged doctors to remove it from his head, but they refused to, knowing that the procedure would be too risky for him. That’s why Mordake ended his life by poisoning himself at the age of 23.
In other version of the story he died by taking a bullet between the eyes of his devil-twin. Although in both versions, Edward left a letter behind requesting that the ‘demon face’ be removed before his burial so that it will not follow him beyond the grave.
Edward Mordrake’s story has been featured in many texts, plays and even music as the Tom Waits song ‘Poor Edward’ is based on it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much evidence that his history was a fact or fiction, though many have considered it as an overly exaggerated tale as many parts of the story do not make medical sense. Well it could be true, but years of retelling might just hyperbolized the real story.
Note: No actual photos of Edward Mordake exist. The image above are just wax interpretation of him that was created after his demise.