Chew on this: UCL exhibition showcases the men who swallowed everything from knives to balls of hair


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The Independent Culture

A macabre new exhibition at University College London looks at the 18th-century “extraordinary eaters” who would gobble up things one should not at sideshows. “They challenged their bodies to cope with swallowed knives, keys or balls of hair,” says curator Sarah Chaney, from UCL's Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines.

“It was a performance of both swallowing, or otherwise inserting, and removing items.” Other objects doctors have fished out of people include buttons, nails, springs, safety pins – even a toy bicycle. It's not for the faint-hearted: rows of historical knick-knacks, look like pickings from an archaeology dig . X-rays are best viewed before lunch.

Foreign Bodies, UCL, London WC1 ( Until 14 July