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Wikipedia:Today's featured article/October 31, 2009

"The Premature Burial" by Antoine Wiertz

The Manchester Mummy, Hannah Beswick (1688–1758), was a wealthy woman with a pathological fear of premature burial whose body was embalmed and kept above ground for over 100 years after her death. The "cold dark shadow of her mummy hung over Manchester in the middle of the eighteenth century", according to writer Edith Sitwell. The mid-18th century saw an upsurge in the public's fear of being mistakenly buried alive, and Beswick had seen one of her brothers show signs of life just as his coffin lid was about to be closed. Writing in 1895, the physician J. C. Ouseley claimed that as many as 2,700 people were buried prematurely each year in England and Wales. For more than 50 years Beswick's mummified body was kept in an old clock case in the home of her family physician, Dr Charles White, and periodically checked for signs of life. Eventually it was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Natural History Society, where it was put on display in the entrance hall. Beswick's home was converted into workers' tenements following her death; several of those living there claimed to have seen an apparition dressed in a black silk gown and a white cap, and described it as Hannah Beswick. (more...)

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