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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel

There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery


The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A modern investigation of the case of a young Victorian woman who claimed to have survived for twelve years without food.

In 1865, eighteen-year-old Mollie Fancher began suffering a myriad of ailments that included paralysis, spasms, blindness, and trances. Treated with electric shocks, rolled in wet sheets, and fitted with an "ice jacket," Mollie took to her bed in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed there for the rest of her life.

Her story became an international sensation. Fought over by scientists and philosophers, called a "psychological marvel" and a fraud, Mollie was, for more than a decade, reportedly able to "live on air."

In one six-month period alone, she apparently ate nothing more than four teaspoons of milk punch, two teaspoons of wine, one small banana, and a cracker.

But what really happened in Mollie's home? How, and how much, did she eat? Was she willfully deceptive or simply hysterical, emotionally disturbed, delusional? In The Fasting Girl, Michelle Stacey searches for the true story of the Fancher case, delving into such fascinating phenomena as medieval anorexia mirabilis (fasting saints), the tragic wave of copycat Victorian fasting girls, and the dawn of the Age of Neurosis. This riveting literary history evokes such bestsellers as The Professor and the Madman and The Murder of Helen Jewett as it explores the social and technological upheaval of a post-Darwinian, doubting era that very much mirrors our own.


"Mysteries, miracles, and medicine are described in fast-paced prose that brings the Victorian world alive in a truly rare way." Lauren Slater, author of Prozac Diary

About the Author

Michelle Stacey, the author of Consumed: Why Americans Love, Hate, and Fear Food, is a journalist who writes extensively for publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Allure. She lives in Larchmont, New York.

Product Details

A True Victorian Medical Mystery
Stacey, Michelle
New York
Compulsive behavior
Eating Disorders
Social history
Women's Studies - History
Modern - 19th Century
Anxiety in women.
General Biography
Edition Description:
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
9.31x6.28x1.19 in. 1.31 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
History and Social Science » World History » General

The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery Used Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Putnam Publishing Group - English 9781585421350 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Mysteries, miracles, and medicine are described in fast-paced prose that brings the Victorian world alive in a truly rare way."
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