“It was rather dark, for the lower half of the windows were boarded up; but in one corner, on the floor, was plainly distinguishable what looked like a heap of clothes flung together in disorder. It appeared to be in motion, however, and the mistress of the house once more turning to her follower had just time to utter the mysterious words—”Don’t be frightened. If she likes you, she’ll hoot; if she doesn’t, she’ll scream…”
Maternal Influence and Monsters It was widely believed in the 19th century that whatever a pregnant woman gazed upon would affect her baby. The papers were full of stories of children born with birth defects or phobias ascribed to their mother being frightened by such horrors as a snarling dog, a rat crushed in a trap, a lightning storm, or a ghost. They are disturbing reading for it was an insensitive age and those born deformed were referred to by journalists in terms like rat baby, human frog, infant monster, or “It.” This is a look at some of those maternally influenced monsters.