Episode 1

Published on:

19th Nov 2019

Mary Toft: Mother of Rabbits

“From Guildford comes a strange, but well attested piece of News. That a poor Woman who lives at Godalmin, near that Town, who has an Husband and two Children now living with her was about a Month past, deliver’d by John Howard an eminent surgeon and man-midwife living at Guildford of a creature resembling a rabbit.” - 'British Gazeteer', 10th October 1726

Meet Mary Toft, who convinced the Enlightenment medical establishment that she had given birth to rabbits. By doing so, she played to established beliefs in the power of the maternal imagination and monstrous birth - and performed a radical act of protest.

WARNING: This episode contains graphic descriptions that may be distressing to those who emotionally project onto rabbits as a species. As well as those invested in the correct pronunciation of 'Goldaming'.


Bondesen, J. (1997). A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities. I.B. Tauris.

Lynch, J.T. (2008). Deception & Detection in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Todd, D. (1995). Imagining Monsters: Miscreations of the Self in Eighteenth-Century England. University of Chicago Press.

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About the Podcast

Demons and Dames
Demons & Dames is a tongue-in-cheek feminist history podcast. Ashley Mauritzen and Sarah Worley-Hill dive deep into the stories of notorious women who shaped history - by design or simply by being in the right (or wrong) time or place. We examine how they were viewed by their contemporaries, and how and why their stories have been interpreted, shaped and passed down. We also laugh. A lot.

About your hosts

Ashley Mauritzen

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Writer, thinker and former wild child, Ashley has a BA in English Literature from Oxford (apparently - she doesn't remember any of it) and an MA in Fashion Journalism. She does an uncanny Kate Bush impression, wears wigs on nights in, and asked for 10 metres of black velvet ribbon for Christmas when she was seven. By day, she's a commercial semiotician. It's a thing. Former alter egos include Oxford gossip column denizen 'Masher', queer comedy performance artist 'the Dreary Mademoiselle', cerebral burlesque star 'Curious Peach', and everyone's favourite Halloween mashup - 'Adam Antoinette.'

Sarah Worley-Hill

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Bibliophile, historian, and all round goof ball. Sarah has an MA Oxon from Oxford University in Ancient and Modern History, but has also taught maths at a boys' boarding school so considers herself an all-rounder. She would invite Alexander the Great, Queen Teuta of Illyria, and Wu Zetian to her ideal time-machine sponsored dinner party but would definitely need a translator. She loves her Shih Tzu, Calypso, very much and wants to get a French bulldog named Odysseus. She's terribly dyslexic and really really can't spell (or pronounce things). She has a mild tea obsession.