The Real Life Lecter
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The Real Life Lecter

A look at England's real-life inspiration for the infamous Silence of the Lambs character.

The Real Life Lecter
MBTI Database

If you're a fan of the horror genre then you are probably familiar with the character Dr. Hannibal Lecter or at the very least the well-known movie, Silence of the Lambs starring the aforementioned fictional character. In case you haven't yet heard about this man and his grisly deeds, here's some background. Hannibal Lecter is an intense and insanely intelligent man with exquisite tastes in food, arts, etc. He appears to be the epitome of the social elite, with the ability to speak several languages and his extensive knowledge of anatomy, chemistry, and physics. Unfortunately, he hides a gruesome past time; killing and cannibalizing those who he perceives as wronging him. Many attribute his condition (known in the movies and books as psychopathy) to extensive childhood abuse, as well as witnessing the murder and cannibalization of his beloved sister. You might be reassured after hearing about Dr. Lecter's insanity and cannibalistic acts that he is nothing but fiction, but even the most nightmarish fiction always holds a sliver of truth.

Robert Maudsley, born in Liverpool, England 1953, is the "real-life" Hannibal Lecter. As a child he had been relentlessly abused, sent to an orphanage, and then retrieved by his parents and beaten further until social services intervened. Many would later attribute the obscene nature of the acts he would commit to this horrifically dysfunctional and neglectful childhood. Eventually, Maudsley was taken to see a psychiatrist who quickly learned that the young boy was extremely disturbed, claiming to hear voices that told him to kill.

As Maudsley grew older he got into drugs and developed an intense and expensive addiction. The only way he could fathom to pay for his newfound habit was to become a sex worker, which may have further contributed to his extreme hatred for child molesters and abusers by putting his underage self - once again - in an abusive scenario. One day, when Maudsley was at a bar he ran into a man who reportedly showed him pictures of children that he had abused. In a cool and calculate manner, Maudsley got the man alone and garroted him using a length of wire. Soon after his first murder he was captured, convicted, and sent to a hospital for the criminally insane.

Unfortunately, life at a guarded mental hospital could not prevent him from killing. Soon after arriving, Maudsley isolated a fellow patient, who was an alleged child molester, and with a fellow inmate; tortured, stabbed, strangled, and killed the man. When his body was later found there was a spoon sticking out of his cracked skull, leading to the famous nickname, "Hannibal the Cannibal". Though never confirmed, Maudsley had allegedly eaten a potion of his victim’s brain, which prompted the nickname to stick and later inspire Thomas Harris to create the well known character Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

After his second gruesome murder, Maudsley was prosecuted and transferred to a real prison in an attempt to diminish the possibility of him killing again. However, this attempt was in vain as shortly after arriving at Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire, England, Maudsley would soon kill again. Unfortunately, Salney Darwood was lured into his cell and the convicted murder quickly had his throat slit by Maudsley. After hiding Darwood's body under his bed, Maudsley attempted to entice other inmates into his cell, but failed to do so. He soon grew bored of sitting in his cell and set out to actively pursue another victim. Sadly, Bill Roberts was cornered by Maudsley and stabbed him to death. He then calmly gave his improvised blade to the prison guards and confessed that he had just killed two men.

Upon returning to Wakefield Prison after being convicted of the two murders, he was deemed incredibly dangerous to others and sentenced to live out his sentence in solitary confinement. A large, plexiglass cell was designed and built just for Maudsley, similar to that of Hannibal Lecter's in The Silence of the Lambs. After being sentenced to live the rest of his life in this cell, Maudsley would often make absurd pleas, such as permission to have a pet budgie or the ability to play board games with the prison staff.

Maudsley's similarities to Hannibal Lecter are hard to overlook, they both were incredibly intelligent and they both murdered while in prison making them very unique and highly dangerous prisoners. Their holding cells bare an uncanny resemblance and they both had very peculiar and fine tastes for the arts, food, and sciences. One particularly menacing quality they both share is the ability to come off as kind, gentle, and earnest despite the murderous intent they both harbor inside.

In the end, one must always remember that no matter how unbelievable and frightening a fictional character can be, the dark side of humanity can always be worse. Be Aware and Stay Safe.


McAuliffe, Cat. "15 Revelations About Robert Maudsley, The Real Life Hannibal the Cannibal." Ranker, 8 May 2017, Accessed 15 Feb. 2018.

Thompson, Tony. "The Caged Misery of Britain's Real "Hannibal the Cannibal." The Guardian, Guardian News and Media Limited, 26 April 2003, Accessed 15 Feb. 2018.

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