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Views & Reviews Past Caring

Of rabbit and humble pie

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 07 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1817
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}

    In a world where health scares and medical uncertainty can so easily spiral into kneejerk reactions and blind panic, it is always useful to maintain a sense of reality. Or so Sir Richard Manningham, physician to George I, had to remind himself when faced with the unlikely tale of a woman who had given birth to 17 rabbits.

    Young Mary Toft had become a “must see” on the Georgian tourist trail in her home town of Godalming, some 50 km south of London, in 1726. After watching two rabbits bounding in a field, the mother of three had given birth to an entire litter of bunnies—albeit in mangled parts—with the assistance of a local male midwife, John Howard. …

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