Author: Richard Aspin

Show Navigation
Richard Aspin

Richard Aspin

Dr Richard Aspin is Head of Research in the Wellcome Library. An archivist and manuscripts curator by training, he has spent many years working with the Library’s collections, as both custodian and researcher. His main motivation for studying the past is to help rescue forgotten lives from the enormous condescension of posterity.

  • Image of Queen Isabella of England.

    Queen Isabella’s regimen of health


    In the later Middle Ages there was a considerable appetite for regimens of health, texts that provided advice about how to remain healthy and combat illness. Medical advice today depends for its efficacy on several factors, from evidence-based proof to… Continue reading

  • Woodcut of man suffering from pox.

    Early medicine: new on the shelves


    This post marks the first of a series of quarterly roundups of new publications of interest to researchers of early medicine that have recently been added to the shelves of the Wellcome Library. The bulletin will highlight monographs and collections… Continue reading

  • Some fatherly advice from the king


    What right do we have to subject our children to potentially dangerous medical intervention in the interests of sparing them from a devastating disease that they may never contract? In the early 18th century several British royal children were inoculated… Continue reading

  • Tales of medical students heading for Paris


    British tourists and travellers heading by road for Paris and points beyond for the summer are likely to take the autoroute. Not so long ago however the principal route was the old RN 1 which took the traveller from Calais… Continue reading

  • Shakespearean ‘simples’


    Dr Richard Aspin searched our 17th century recipe books to find out more about the herbal medicine found in Shakespeare’s plays. This is the last of our series of Shakespeare related blog posts. Locally harvested wild herbs were the foundation… Continue reading

  • A great deal of dying in Dr Herz


    In 1893 a middle-aged American physician lay ‘dying’ in a Bournemouth hotel. Cornelius Herz was wanted by the French authorities to answer charges in connection with the death of a business partner. A warrant for his arrest was even executed… Continue reading

  • Fragment from 1562 almanac.

    The origins of the English almanac


    Almanacs have a long association with medicine. Potted health advice lent itself to inclusion in the sort of cheap booklets for a mass market that proliferated under the name ‘Almanack’ from the 16th century onwards. But what exactly is an… Continue reading

  • Spotlight: Christmas in wartime


    A fresh-faced young woman stares out from the pages of an old pantomime programme. Her cheeks are lightly rouged and her auburn hair is gathered into a flowing pigtail falling over her left shoulder. If there is something rather too… Continue reading

  • Text from 15th century manuscript.

    Before Agincourt: a contemporary voice on war in a medieval medical manuscript


    ‘What have you got on the Black Death?’, students occasionally ask in relation to the Wellcome Library’s medieval manuscripts. Surprising as it sounds, the answer is ‘nothing’. How can it be that some 300 mainly medical books, many of which… Continue reading

  • Captain J P Lynch: prisoner of war


    From the heroic image of the doughty captive fictionalised in the film the Great Escape to the sufferings on the River Kwai, the British POW is an instantly recognisable World War II type. The experience of captivity in World War… Continue reading