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The Girl Who Lived on Air

The Mystery of Sarah Jacob: The Welsh Fasting Girl

The Girl Who Lived on Air by Stephen Wade
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Though not the first anorexic, Sarah Jacob, “the Welsh fasting girl,” was arguably the first to cause a national uproar when she dominated the press in 1869, becoming something of a celebrity. Despite a team of nurses from Guy’s Hospital stationed at her home in Lletherneuadd, Sarah died, and the best minds in British medicine theorized about the cause of her apparently supernatural existence: living in spite of starvation. This human story shows how Sarah was made to be the center of a lucrative and media-hungry “spin” on the 19th-century nexus of knowledge between science and superstition, folk-belief and religious asceticism. New ground is covered in examining the medical issues surrounding the case, the legal complexities, and the interpretation of a newly enacted law that reformulated serious crime, the prison life of Sarah’s parents—who were convicted of manslaughter—and the significance of folklore and superstition in an unusual and yet all-too-familiar story.

Seren; July 2014
180 pages; ISBN 9781781720707
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Title: The Girl Who Lived on Air
Author: Stephen Wade
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