Please DO eat in the library

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By | Events and Visits

I know, shocking! But for one weekend only, lucky guests at the Wellcome Collection’s Feast to Cure Melancholy on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 November were invited to break the rules and dine in the library’s Reading Room as part of an edible experiment exploring 17th-century beliefs about the four humours.

Each guest spent the evening in the guise of a new character, from melancholic Prudence (a student suffering from anxiousness due living in city away from her rural family, and uncomfortable with the fast pace of city life) to choleric Rowland (a quick tempered City worker, in a pressured environment on a high salary, finding it difficult to wind down after work).

On hand to offer advice were a Physician, Apothecary and Housewife, each competing with the other to provide the most effective and affordable cures for guests’ physical and psychological humoral imbalances.

But if snail scum and fox’s lungs cures didn’t appeal, the edible remedies created by food artists Blanch & Shock were a delight for both the eye and the palate. How could melancholic Prudence not be put in a better mood by the sanguine treat of wild mallard breast and Jerusalem artichoke?

And now the Reading Room is once again a place of peaceful, food-free study, I can’t help wondering, did it all really happen?

Posted on behalf of Helen

Image copyright Mike Massaro

Lesley Hall

Lesley Hall

Lesley Hall, FRHistS, PhD, DipAA, has been an archivist at the Wellcome since 1979. She has published extensively on the history of sexuality and gender in Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries, given many talks and conference presentations, and featured on radio and television. Further details can be found at her website.

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