March hare - The DM Collection

March hare

March 10, 2016

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Why is the march hare mad?

Alice in Wonderland fans will know the Mad Hatter's erratic companion the March Hare. But the madness of hares in March pre-dates Lewis Carroll by several centuries with a poem penned as far back as 1500 describing the animals like this:

Thanne þey begyn to swere and to stare, And be as braynles as a Marshe hare
(Then they begin to swerve and to stare, And be as brainless as a March hare)

The hare's association with lunacy is in part due to its fairly nocturnal nature - see this earlier blog The Hare in the Moon. It's wild springtime frolics have also been attributed to its mating season, when both male and female hares can be seen leaping, turning and boxing - as shown in this design. 

The hare is a portentous animal. Boudicca was said to release a hare, kept under her skirts, for good luck before every battle. Yet, like many animals strongly associated with pagan religions, the hare has latterly been linked to witches and seen as a bad omen - as outlined in our earlier blog Hazardous Occupation?

With such a rich folkloric tradition around the hare, it's no wonder they have a strong place in the DM Collection. A running hare was one of Dan's first designs that featured an animal - now only available in screenprint.

The boxing hare was created alongside the fox - as Dan explains here, he usually works on two or three designs at the same time and Aesop (of fables fame) is culpable for that particular pairing.  

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Gail Emerson
Gail Emerson

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