The Fasting Girl: a True Victorian Medical Mystery

By Michelle Stacey

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In June 1865, 18-year-old Mollie Fancher was dragged by a Brooklyn trolley car for nearly a block, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. She then took to her bed for the rest of her long life, becoming an international celebrity because she was able to survive without, apparently, ever eating. Was she a fraud, a saint or a victim of mental illness -- or a bit of all these things?

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