The melancholy earl: emotion, medicine and the body in 17th-century England

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By | Early Medicine, Events and Visits

The first seminar in the 2016–17 History of Pre-Modern Medicine seminar series takes place on Tuesday 11th October.

Melancholic man.

Woodcut of melancholic man. EPB/5497/B: Cesare Ripa, Iconologia, overo descrittione d’imagini delle virtù, vitij, affetti, passioni humane, corpi celesti, mondo e sue parti (Padua: P. P. Tozzi, 1611 [1610]), p. 89. Wellcome Images L0003192.

Speaker: Dr Erin Sullivan (University of Birmingham)

The melancholy earl: emotion, medicine and the body in 17th-century England


What did melancholy look like in 17th-century England, both in printed medical treatises and in doctors’ manuscript case notes? Building on research presented in her recent book, Beyond melancholy: sadness and selfhood in Renaissance England (OUP, 2016), Dr Sullivan will survey cultural attitudes towards melancholy in early modern Europe and then explore how contemporary medical practice sometimes moved in rather different directions. The paper will focus in particular on the hitherto unknown medical treatment that William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke received for melancholy in 1605 in the medical chambers of Dr William Barker of Shrewsbury.


Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.

Doors open at 6pm, seminar will start at 6.15pm.

The seminar series is focused on pre-modern medicine, which we take to cover European and non-European history before the 20th century (antiquity, medieval and early modern history, some elements of 19th-century medicine).

Further details on the seminar series are available in a previous post.

Ross Macfarlane

Ross Macfarlane is the Research Engagement Officer at the Wellcome Library.

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