Edward Mordake 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 at the age of 23. The description of Edward Mordake’s condition is somewhat similar to those of Chang Tzu Ping and Pasqual Pinon. Both Mordake and Pinon are featured as the 2 Very Special Cases on a list of 10 People With Extra Limbs or Digits in The Book of Lists edition of 1976.
It is difficult to establish the facts behind Edward Mordake’s condition due to the lack of reliable medical records. Not even his date of birth and death are recorded and there are conflicting accounts regarding his suicide, as well as placement and position of his extra face. Much of what is known is based on oral retelling.
The 1896 text Anomolies and Curiosities of Medicine mentions a version of the story and Edward has not been featured in many texts, plays, and songs. However, the tale was considered false for quite some time. It was simply too fantastic to believe and, obviously, many parts of the story simply do not make medical sense – years of retelling warped what was likely a very real occurrence. Tom Waits wrote a song about Edward Mordake titled “Poor Edward” for his opera Alice. Waits performs the song on an album with the same name.
American Horror Story - Episode 4.01-4.05 - Titles Revealed+Premiere Dates
Episode 4.01 - “Monsters Among Us” (08-Oct-2014) Episode 4.02 - “Massacres and Matinees” (15-Oct-2014) Episode 4.03 - “Edward Mordrake, Pt. 1” (22-Oct-2014)* Episode 4.04 - “Edward Mordrake, Pt. 2” (29-Oct-2014) Episode 4.05 - “Pink Cupcakes” (05-Nov-2014)
*Edward Mordake was the name given to an apocryphal 19th-century heir to an unspecified English peerage who was said to have suffered from a form of Diprosopus. According to sources, he had, on the back of his head, an extra face which could neither eat nor speak out loud, although it was described as being able to laugh and cry. Edward reportedly begged doctors to have his “demon face” removed, claiming that it whispered to him at night, but no doctor would attempt it. He committed suicide “in his 23rd year.” [x]
Finally the bell tolled his doom He took a suite of rooms And hung himself and her from the balcony irons Some still believe he was freed from her But I knew her too well I say she drove him to suicide And took poor Edward to hell
Poor Edward - Tom Waits
Edward Mordrake, the 19th century heir to an English peerage, reportedly had an extra face on the back of his head. It could not speak or eat, but Edward believed that it whispered Satanist language to him at night, or as the song goes, ‘things heard only in hell’. Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine stated that the face would smile and sneer while Edward was weeping. In his 23rd year Edward committed suicide, supposedly leaving a request that the extra face be destroyed before his burial, 'least it continues its dreadful whisperings in my grave’.
Tom Waits wrote a song about Edward Mordrake for his album Alice.