The Mysterious Man With Two Faces

A photograph of a wax construction of Edward Mordrake’s two faces made by an interested artist.

Mordrake said the extra face would whisper commands to him—instructions of evil deeds to do, or other vile messages. 

My curiosity about poor Edward Mordrake caused me to delve deeper into the mystery that surrounds him.  Was there any truth to the legend, a young man of nobility and heir to a peerage?

Edward was a strikingly handsome man who lived in 19th Century Britain.  He resembled Antinous, the ancient Greek.  You can look up an image of the bust of Antinous as it appears in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, if you are curious.

Edward carried himself in a most graceful manner—on the few instances he was observed moving about in public.  He did not go out much but secreted himself in his room.  He did not like the attention the back of his head received when he did venture into the outside world.  You see, there was a rudimentary extra face on the back of his head.  It had eyes, a nose, and a mouth.  It was a cruel genetic joke.

The face seemed to be that of a female.  It did or didn’t do several things, depending on who was reporting.  It was said it could laugh or cry aloud.  It laughed at Edward when he was sad, and sobbed when he was happy.  Others reported that it made no sound at all, but could smile and frown, again, at inappropriate times.

There is one very convincing photograph of Edward in profile, showing both faces—the handsome one and the creepy one.  It is so realistic that it is hard to believe that it was only a photograph of a wax construction made by an interested artist.

This photograph was passed off as a true photograph for a while, giving substance to what may have been only a legend.  There is another odd artist’s construction of two fused skulls.  It was labeled as his true skull when it was on display.

It seems that many people claimed to see Edward Mordrake and know him personally, including known doctors.  His extra face had been written up in medical publications of the time.  The publications all had almost the same identical text and this text was explained as a lay person’s account and there was no scientific origin for the source.  In 1896, a report appeared in The Encyclopedia of Anomalies and Medical Curiosities.

Edward Mordrake explained to his own two doctors that the face was driving him insane and he begged them to remove it surgically.  After several consultations, they explained that they could not do it, and no surgeon would.  It would be too dangerous.

Edward continued to plead, and added he did not care if the procedure killed him—he had no quality of life.  At night, the extra face would whisper commands to him—instructions of evil deeds to do, or other vile messages.  No doctor would consider the surgery and Edward was compelled to take his own life, with poison, at the young age of 23.

Edward was so tormented by the face that he had left instructions for the undertakers to remove and destroy the face before they buried the rest of him.  He also did not wish to be buried in the cemetery.  He did not think his body should be placed in hallowed ground–it was interred in a waste area.

As interesting as this story is, it does not seem it could be completely true—maybe there are bits and pieces that would stand up to scrutiny, but so much of it just could never have happened.  There is no way to find out for sure.

There is another similar tale that is true.  There was a railroad worker in Texas, one Pasqual Pinon, 1889-1929, that caught the attention of a passing traveler.  Pinon had a huge round cyst on the top of his head.  It was benign but very prominent.

The passing traveler was a circus promoter from Mexico.  He pulled Pasqual from his labors and told him he would make him wealthy.  He took him into Mexico where he had an artist decorate the huge cyst as an extra head.  Some say a wax build-up was used, and others say a silver plate was inserted beneath the skin, to add a third dimension to the false face.  Some of Pasqual’s hair was trimmed and placed strategically to cover up seams in the work.

Pasqual was passed off successfully as a two-headed man by the Sells-Floto Circus in Mexico, where people paid a lot to get a quick glance at him.  When he got tired of the whole charade, years later, the circus helped him pay for the successful removal of the cyst and he went back to Texas to finish his life.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of Dark Continent Continental. Please click HERE to find the novel on Amazon.

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