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A monstrous shape
Wood 401 (135), B.L., three woodcuts, four columns. One stanza is printed from this copy in the Roxburghe Ballads, vm, 28.
In December, 1639, the "hog-faced gentlewoman" created great excitement in London journalistic circles. Ballads called "The Woman Monster," "A Maiden Monster," "A Strange Relation of a Female Monster," "A New Ballad of the Swines-faced Gentlewoman," and "A Wonder of These Times," registered on December 4—II, spread her fame abroad. Laurence Price's ballad was apparently not among these registrations. Along with the ballads appeared (on December 5) a book entitled A cer-taine Relation of the Hog-faced Gentlewoman called Mistris Tannakin Skinker, who was borne at Wirkham a Neuter Towne betweene the Emperour and the Hollander, scituate on the river Rhyne. Who was bewitched in her mothers wombe in the yeare 1618, and hath lived ever since unknowne in this kind to any, but her Parents and a few other neighbours. And can never recover her true shape tell she be married &c. Also relating the cause, as it is since conceived, how her mother came so bewitched (Ashbee's Occasional Fac-Simile Reprints, No. 16). According to the book, if any man will have the courage to marry this ugly but immensely wealthy woman he will find, as John Gower tells in the Confessio Amantis (book 1, w. 1407 fi\), that immediately her deformity will vanish and her beauty become ravishing. The same motif underlies Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale and the traditional ballad of "The Marriage of Sir Gawain" (F. J. Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads, No. 31). See, further, Maynadier's Wife of Bath's Tale, Its Sources and Analogues, 1901.
"The Swines-fac't Lady" is the subject of an epigram in Robert Chamberlain's Jocabella, 1640. Mercurius Democritus for October 19-26, 1653, tells of a monstrous giant "taken by an English Merchant in a certain Hand in America called Nera," and remarks that "The Hgogs-fac'd [sic] Gentle-Woman is sent for out of Holland to be his godmother." (The same allusion is made in a separate tract on this subject printed by John Crouch in 1653.) Mercurius Fumigosus, August 9-16, 1654, p. 106, speaks of "the Signe of Hoggs-fac'd Gentlewoman in Bartholmew Faire." "The swine fac'd Lady" is mentioned also in Ad Populum, or A Low-Country Lecture, 1653, sig. A 2V. There is a wonderful lithographic facsimile of Miss Skinker, catalogued under her name, in the British Museum.
Swine-faced ladies of a much later period are frequently reported,
r.p.g. 449 ff