Baby farming

There was an entire group of women that made a living taking care of the unwanted children or acting as brokers to get them into happy homes, for a fee, but only some legitimately helped. Others would just kill the baby. One of the worst cases was of Amelia Dyer, who provided her services to desperate mothers for more than 30 years. She charged the equivalent of $10,000 in today's cash, and at the time of her capture, took in an average of six babies every day. She was convicted after the body of baby, Helena Fry was fished out of the Thames, and admitted to police that every baby strangled with tape "was one of mine". It's not known how many she killed, but the number is certainly in the hundreds.

Treating mental illness

There's no shortage of reasons a woman could find herself committed to an insane asylum in the Victorian era, and once she was there, what were doctors to do with her? According to Dr. R. Maurice Bucke, the thing to do was to get rid of what was causing his patients' madness: their reproductive organs. Bucke was the superintendent at the London Asylum for the Insane from 1877 to 1902, and according to the records, he performed more than 200 surgeries on women, that included 16 hysterectomies and 22 operations undertaken to move the uterus back to its rightful position, in the hopes of “curing” the patients.

Performance-enhancing drugs

A popular Victorian competitive sport was Pedestrianism – long-distance walking in which walkers would cover hundreds of miles over the course of a few days by going round and round a track. A pedestrianism scandal kicked off in 1876, when American competitor Edward Weston tried to cover 115 miles in a day (he finished less than six miles short), and in order to stay awake, chewed coca leaves (constituent in making cocaine) throughout the race. To fight off fatigue and muscle aches, Victorian athletes used anything from cocaine and alcohol to strychnine which is rat poison, and in high enough doses it pulls the facial muscles into a smile as it shuts down the respiratory system while a person is still conscious.