The Mercury Poisoned Hatter

Posted: April 18, 2016 in Articles

madhatterA few days ago Dink came in from school and told us about a story his chemistry teacher told the class. The teacher asked the class to recall Alice in Wonderland, the novel in which “the Mad Hatter” appears (a hatter is a person who makes hats).

Could the Mad Hatter have been mad due to his job? According to Dink’s teacher, hats were lined with mercury back then and that often drove the hat makers crazy, being that mercury is a poison. I read that mercury was used in making felt, which was in turn used to make hats. After a certain amount of time in the hat making business, a person could become quite “mad”. This is where the phrase “Mad as a hatter” comes from.

I don’t know about the truth of either of these theories, but it’s certainly interesting. Anyone out there have anything to add on the subject?

  1. Libby says:

    I have heard this tale before and I think there may be some truth in it!

  2. An interesting link, but Wikipedia has this to say: Theophilus Carter (1824–1904) was an eccentric British furniture dealer thought to be an inspiration for the illustration by Sir John Tenniel of Lewis Carroll’s characters the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Hatta in Through the Looking-Glass.

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