In 19th-century Wales, when medical cures were hit-or-miss, people were just as likely to go to one of the cunning folk as to a qualified doctor. Alis Hawkins, whose new book, Not One Of Us, features one such astrologer and healer, writes about the real wizards of west Wales. One of the reasons I love […]
It’s London in 1929. Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and an adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a pioneer in the eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright. When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to […]
Louise Fein looks at the lessons to be learned about altering human genetics in the light of the history of eugenics, the chilling theory that lies behind her latest novel, The Hidden Child. I recently heard a news clip about how human cells have been successfully grown in monkey embryos in a laboratory. The concept […]
It’s hard to be more historical and contemporary in these days of Covid jabs than this past month, when two important anniversaries in the history of immunisation against serious contagions have taken place. In April 1721 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu inoculated her daughter, Mary, with smallpox, but although the little girl survived, inoculation wasn’t widely […]
When Pen & Sword Books approached historian and novelist LJ Trafford about writing a book they described as ‘Horrible Histories for Grownups’, set in Ancient Rome, she accepted with pleasure. As readers of her books – and her Historia pieces – know, she’s an expert in the bizarre, ridiculous and downright disgusting details of Roman […]
Medicine in Elizabethan times was all too likely to kill the patient, author SW Perry tells Historia. But it wasn’t necessarily the doctors’ fault. Most of what they believed about curing diseases and healing injuries was based on theories which were spectacularly wrong.
Deborah Swift explores how the plague was understood and treated in 17th century London. Today, people have widely variable responses to disease and its cure. I don’t think I’m alone in having friends who show hypochondriac tendencies, who use ‘alternative’ or even quack medicines, or who are convinced that a random event, real or supernatural, has […]