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  • The ‘stuff that almost brings people back from the dead’

    06/01/2017

    An exhibition to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first human trials of penicillin has recently opened at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. ‘Back From The Dead‘ traces the “miraculous and precarious” nature of antibiotics from the… Continue reading

  • Image from alchemical manuscript.

    Alchemical images revisited

    16/12/2016

    Does monumental Truth lurk behind the colourful alchemical imagery of manuscripts held at the Wellcome Library? Images of this kind have fascinated scholars and artists for centuries, their rich symbolism being drawn on by Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Dryden, Goethe, Hugo,… Continue reading

  • Dancing to heal

    10/12/2016

    While researching the role of dance as a form of therapy for the latest Wellcome Collection exhibition ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond‘, I discovered a richly illustrated cross-cultural discipline that spans many centuries. It quickly became clear that dance has… Continue reading

  • Image of Aristotle and hairy woman.

    ‘Aristotle”s bestselling sex manual

    09/12/2016

    Sex, childbirth and reproductive health were topics of considerable interest to people in early modern England. The Wellcome Library has a substantial collection of different editions of a hugely popular printed work addressing these issues in 17th- and 18th-century England,… Continue reading

  • William Sargant’s world of psychosurgery, brainwashing and exorcism

    08/12/2016

    Mike Jay delves into the personal papers of one of the first ‘media psychiatrists’ of the 20th century, in the fourth in our blog series about the Asylum and Beyond. William Walters Sargant  (1907-88) was one of the most colourful… Continue reading

  • Art in the asylum

    06/12/2016

    For the next in our series, the Asylum and Beyond, Julia Nurse explores our asylum archives to find some of the earliest examples of art therapy – and some fascinating artworks! As the first asylum to actively encourage and collect… Continue reading

  • The language of mental health

    03/12/2016

    For the next in our series about the Asylum and Beyond, Lalita Kaplish examines her reaction to reading a 19th century book about mental illness and disorders. George Shuttleworth was a psychiatrist and an asylum superintendent at the Royal Albert… Continue reading

  • An hysterical diagnosis

    01/12/2016

    What did it mean for a woman to be diagnosed with hysteria? In the second of our blog series on the ‘asylum and beyond‘, Charlotte Whittingham examines patient records from the asylum to find out. A 1916 casebook from St… Continue reading

  • Fire at the Crystal Palace: the end of an era

    30/11/2016

    Eighty years ago, on 30 November 1936, a huge fire lit up the night sky over London. The Crystal Palace in South London had caught fire and as the colossal structure blazed, Londoners had a preview of what many would… Continue reading

  • Notions of asylum and beyond

    25/11/2016

    We’ve invited Mike Jay, curator of the exhibition ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’, to take over the Library Blog as guest editor for a series of blog posts inspired by the notion of ‘asylum’ and our own digitised mental health… Continue reading