The eighteenth and nineteenth century saw an explosion in freak show performers and exhibitions. Anyone deemed ‘out of the ordinary’ had the potential to be displayed and exhibited, including giants. These giants performed to earn a living, yet whilst previous work by historians’ paint giants as passive performers who were exploited by entertainment managers and… Continue reading Paper, Flesh and Bone: An Exploration of Giants’ Lives in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Britain
Charles Byrne, otherwise known as the Irish Giant, died aged 22 in 1783. During his life he exhibited himself around the United Kingdom, attracting the attention of the public and the medical profession. Whilst the public, fascinated by his towering height, enjoyed his performances, the medical profession was intent on studying his body. They believed… Continue reading Acknowledging His Last Wishes: Charles Byrne, The Irish Giant
Warning: Contains Spoilers! Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2018, Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo chronicles the lives of Yejide and Akin, a married couple struggling to come to terms with infertility and child mortality against the backdrop of a politically charged 1980s Nigeria. Whilst reading Stay With Me, I was impressed by the historical accuracy of… Continue reading Review: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Edward Jenner's development of the smallpox vaccine in the 1790s was a crucial turning point for the eradication of smallpox. Variolation, the direct exposure of an individual to the smallpox virus to encourage immunity, was replaced by Jenner with vaccination, in which a scab from the infectious cow-pox virus was inserted into the skin. Inoculation… Continue reading Irre-moo-vable Side Effects: Cows, Etchings and Opposition to the Smallpox Vaccination, 1800-1810.
Owing to relatively good health, the extent of my hospital visits begin and end at the phlebotomy department. Often quick visits, there is no time to study my environment. Yet the layout of hospitals sparked debate in the nineteenth century, so much so that during the latter half of the century, hospital environments… Continue reading Nightingale’s Notes on Hospitals: The Realities of Implementing New Hospital Layouts in the Nineteenth Century
'The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine' by Lindsey Fitzharris was an odd book to place so highly on my Christmas list. Nonetheless, Santa delivered and my days between Christmas and New Year were spent entirely in 19th century hospitals, operating theatres and lecture halls. Focusing on Dr… Continue reading Review: ‘The Butchering Art’ by Lindsey Fitzharris
Starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, 'The Greatest Showman' musical delves into the life of 19th century showman P. T. Barnum. Famously known for his management of freak performers and the creation of a successful museum and circus, Barnum worked closely with freaks of all talents and abilities, in turn making a healthy profit. Whilst… Continue reading The Freaks That Inspired ‘The Greatest Showman’