The Imposteress Rabbit Breeder

Norma Clarke at Literary Review:

In October 1726 some ‘strange, but well attested’ news emerged from Godalming near Guildford. An ‘eminent’ surgeon, a male midwife, had delivered a poor woman called Mary Toft not of a child but of rabbits – a number of them, over a period of several weeks. None of the rabbits, not even a ‘perfect’ one, survived their birth, but the surgeon bottled them up and declared his intention to present them as specimens to the Royal Society. A report in the British Gazeteer furnished readers with the woman’s explanation. Some months earlier she and other women working in a field had chased a rabbit and failed to catch it. She was pregnant at the time and suffered a miscarriage. Thereafter, she pined to eat rabbit and had been unable to avoid thinking of rabbits.

more here.