• Mad as a Hatter

    by  • March 1, 2010 • Community Sherpa, Freelance Writing Samples, Writing

    mhatterNo doubt, you’ll know that the big movie event of the weekend is Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, the movie is sure to be my favorite movie of all time. Unless it isn’t.

    The character of the Mad Hatter is obviously based on the phrase, “Mad as a Hatter,” which has several interesting origins.

    One of the most popular, and for our purposes, obvious possibilities is that hat makers in the 17th and 18th century used the element mercury when making felt hats. Mercury is quite poisonous and causes Korsakoff’s syndrome, which results in amnesia and false memories among other things.

    The first recorded use of the phrase comes in a fiction conversation in the January-June 1829 issue of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine:

    NORTH: Many years – I was Sultan of Bello for a long period, until dethroned by an act of the grossest injustice ; but I intend to expose the traitorous conspirators to the indignation of an outraged world.
    TICKLER (aside to SHEPHERD.): He’s raving.
    SHEPHERD (to TICKLER.): Dementit.
    ODOHERTY (to both.): Mad as a hatter. Hand me a segar.

    Source: Wikipedia


    Michael has been writing professionally for print, television and the internet for thirty years. As a Senior Producer at CNN International, he examined the future of technology with dozens of brilliant scientists, philosophers and entrepreneurs on the acclaimed series Future Summit. Before that, in the CNN International newsroom, he helped lead the production of award winning coverage of news like the 9/11 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the devastating 2004 tsunami in Asia. As a director, he has created a dozen short films in the last seven years. He lives with his wife, dog, four cats and two horses in the suburbs of Atlanta.