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  • Spotlight: a solitary survivor of the Great Plague


    The Great Plague that afflicted London 350 years ago (1665–66) had a dramatic impact on the city, killing up to 100,000 people of a population that then numbered about 460,000. There was a plethora of printed responses to this plague… Continue reading

  • Points on foot for bloodletting.

    Bodily fluids/fluid bodies: call for papers


    Paper proposals are invited for a conference on ‘Bodily fluids/fluid bodies in Greek and Roman Antiquity’ that will take place at St Michael’s College, Cardiff, 11–13 July 2016. The conference is organised by Dr Victoria Leonard (Cardiff) and Dr Laurence… Continue reading

  • Detail from painting: boy with tray of blood.

    History of Pre-Modern Medicine seminar series, 2015–16


    The History of Pre-Modern Medicine seminar series returns this autumn. The 2015–16 series – organised by a group of historians of medicine based at London universities and hosted by the Wellcome Library – will commence with four seminars in the… Continue reading

  • Image from Greek manuscript.

    Greek manuscripts at the Wellcome Library: a new catalogue


    I have recently completed a new descriptive catalogue of the 16 Greek manuscripts held by the Wellcome Library. The catalogue was published in the journal Medical History with contributions from Dr Georgi R. Parpulov. Some of these manuscripts contain previously… Continue reading

  • Image of St Margaret

    Religion and medicine: call for papers


    Paper proposals are invited for a conference on ‘Religion and medicine: healing the body and soul from the Middle Ages to the modern day’ that will take place at Birkbeck, University of London, 15–16 July 2016. The conference is convened… Continue reading

  • Image of Trotula

    Speaking of Trotula


    In her inaugural post on the Early Medicine blog, Elma Brenner used an iconic image of the female practitioner ‘Trotula’ to introduce the new digitisation of Wellcome MS. 544, a 14th-century collection of Latin medical texts. Many students of the… Continue reading

  • Galen title page with inscription.

    A Parisian surgical dynasty and their books


    Why do we often sign and date our books when we acquire them? It is not surely for fear that we will lose them and thus to ensure their safe return. Rather, it is to mark their place in our… Continue reading

  • MS 49 pregnant woman image

    Medieval manuscripts today: enhancing the Wellcome Library’s catalogue


    The Wellcome Library houses some 300 manuscripts produced in the Middle Ages – that is, between about 400 and 1500 AD. What these manuscripts have in common is that they all, somehow, relate to medicine and health during this period… Continue reading

  • Image from herbal

    Plants, prayers and plague: Wellcome MS. 335


    Among the medieval manuscripts held by the Wellcome Library, some, such as MS. 49, have survived through time thanks to their status as beautiful objects. Others are less impressive at first sight. MS. 335, a miscellany of medical and religious… Continue reading

  • Alchemical furnaces

    Alchemy and the quest for long life: Wellcome MS. 446


    Alchemy, with its cryptic language and fantastic symbolism, evokes many aspects of the culture of the Middle Ages. In alchemical manuscripts, drawings of alembics, funnels and furnaces vividly represent this long lost art. Alchemy’s goal of transmuting base metal into… Continue reading