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  • Woodcut of St Birgitta.

    Reading and health in the medieval convent

    08/06/2017

    Medieval medicine, based on the writings associated with Hippocrates and Galen, held that health depended on keeping the body’s humours (blood, choler, phlegm and melancholy) in equilibrium. The regulation of the ‘non-naturals’, influences on the body such as the consumption… Continue reading

  • Who was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Prospero?

    27/04/2016

    In Shakespeare’s play The Tempest the character Prospero uses magical powers to intimidate his enemies and to manipulate the natural world. The character may have been inspired by the Elizabethan mathematician, astrologer and book collector John Dee. Prospero is the… Continue reading

  • Workers operating distilling equipment.

    Materia medica at the grand-ducal court in 16th century Tuscany

    10/02/2016

    The next seminar in the 2015–16 History of Pre-Modern Medicine Seminar Series takes place on Tuesday 16 February. Speaker: Dr Cristina Bellorini (Independent scholar, Milan) Materia medica at the grand-ducal court in 16th century Tuscany Abstract: In Tuscany in the second half… Continue reading

  • Bishop in 16th century manuscript

    Bishops and medicine in medieval England

    01/02/2016

    Many bishops in medieval England possessed medical knowledge, but that did not mean that such knowledge was always viewed as a desirable quality in a bishop. In 1114, King Henry I of England decided that Faritius, abbot of Abingdon, should… Continue reading

  • Bond villains and criminal anthropology

    30/01/2016

    Amongst the Libary’s collection of fiction is a copy of Dr No, featuring the redoubtable secret agent, James Bond, created by the ex-Naval Intelligence Officer, Ian Fleming. Both the cinematic and literary worlds of Bond are inhabited by vividly imagined… Continue reading

  • An unexpected benefit of digitisation: 1537 more books!

    12/01/2016

    Notorious among our library staff is a collection known as simply the ‘Broadly Classified Medical’ (BCM). Comprising over 55,000 books dating back to the 1850s, much of the collection is a prime candidate for our 19th century digitisation programme. For… Continue reading

  • An epoch in the history of typography

    29/10/2015

    In the preface to The Anatomy of Sleep Jamaican–Scottish physician Edward Binns (1804–1851) claims to have written the first ever treatise on “procuring sleep at will, by directing the activity of the cerebral organs”. But that isn’t the only first… Continue reading

  • Digitisation at the Royal College of Physicians, London

    13/05/2015

    The library of Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is delighted to be one of the ten UK partner organisations taking part in the UK-Medical Heritage Library (UK-MHL) project. Over next year, working with the Wellcome Library and the Internet Archive, the RCP… Continue reading

  • The UK Medical Heritage Library: uniting digitised collections

    29/07/2014

    We are excited to welcome nine UK research library partners to the UK Medical Heritage Library project. These libraries will be making their historic collections available for digitisation alongside the Wellcome Library’s own 19th century works. They make up the… Continue reading

  • Historic Knitting

    21/06/2013

    I have just finished knitting a bag from a 19th century knitting pattern held by the Wellcome Library. It may seem odd that there are knitting patterns in a library devoted to the history of medicine and biomedical sciences but… Continue reading