When Daisy and Violet Hilton were born in 1908, their mother, Kate Skinner, called them "monsters". Kate, an unmarried barmaid living in Brighton, England, thought the conjoined twins were her punishment for giving birth out of wedlock.
Daisy and Violet were fused at the pelvis and shared blood circulation. They were born naturally, with the nurse only realising something was unusual halfway through the birth of the first twin, when she couldn’t deliver the baby fully due to an "obstruction". Medical experts agreed that an operation to separate Violet and Daisy "would certainly result in the death of one child and probably of both".
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Kate’s boss, Mary Hilton, who ran the Queen’s Arms pub, saw the twins as a money-making opportunity. She took them in, and by the time they were a few weeks old, she was exhibiting them in the window of the pub. When they got a bit bigger, she moved them to a back room, where people would pay two pennies to see them – more if they wanted to touch them where they were joined.
When the twins turned three, Mary started displaying them at carnivals. They were taught to dance and play musical instruments so they could perform for audiences. When they turned eight, Mary toured them to Australia and then to the US, where they stayed.