Edward Mordrake – Did He Really Exist?
I’d never heard of the guy before, that I can recall, not until he was featured on AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW. (Played by Wes Bentley, he was my favorite character from that season, with Twisty coming in a close second.) I was unaware that Edward Mordrake (aka Mordake) was reputed to have been a real person, and excited when I found this out. Exactly when did the legend of Mordrake begin? The earliest mention of him comes from an article published by the BOSTON POST in 1895, describing several human “oddities.” Though touted as fact, the article was written by fiction author Charles Lotin Hildreth and was likely an example of the sensationalized “yellow journalism” so sadly common in those days. (That’s right, folks. Lying on the part of the press didn’t start with Fox News.) One year later, a medical encyclopedia made mention of Mordrake, but it used as its source the article by Hildreth.
I did wonder if perhaps the story of Edward Mordrake might have inspired the comic strip character Mandrake the Magician, but it seems far more likely that the latter took his name from the mandrake root, a tuber (actually there are several) with a long history of alleged occult capabilities.