‘A Damnable Villain’ part 2 – a free pony for your wife!

In the second part of his guest article, Robert K. Waits - author of The Medical Electricians - reveals Byron H Robb's change of career from electro-magnetic entrepreneur to Texas rancher. Read Part 1...

Guest Post – Dickens, Holloway and product placement

. I'm pleased to welcome guest blogger Leslie Katz, who has investigated whether Charles Dickens was approached to promote the famous Holloway's Pills in one of his novels. . For many years during the nineteenth century, the...

No glister-pipe, bum-peeping apothecary

The following speech appeared in a comic 18th-century booklet called The Harangues or Speeches of Several Famous Mountebanks in Town or Country, which makes fun of high-profile medical salesmen by attributing to them wild...

Hearty and Vigorous to the Last

I wrote recently on the new Royalty Free Fiction blog about how a handwritten note in a historical source inspired me to write my novel, Kill-Grief. The note was what started me thinking about...
John Gardner, Image Courtesy of Wellcome Library, London

The Worm-Doctor of Shoreditch

It's a while since we last heard from our old friend Ascaris lumbricoides, so it's time he made another appearance on The Quack Doctor together with a few of his helminthic chums. I'm putting together...

Sago Jenkinson and the Case of the Witched Child

When Nancy Harborough took her sick child to a local celebrity doctor in 1844, she probably didn't expect to receive advice worthy of Matthew Hopkins two centuries earlier. As it was, the whole sad...

Antonius W. Van Bysterveld, Expert Inspector of Urine

Advertisement from The Pomeroy Herald, Iowa, 27 January 1910 Centuries after the figure of the ‘pisse-prophet’ had descended into the realms of quackery and ridicule, a modern kind of urine analyst popped up in Grand...

Dr Rock’s Political Speech to the Mob in Covent-Garden

This is a short excerpt from a speech attributed to Dr Richard Rock in a satirical mid-18th-century pamphlet called The harangues, or speeches, of several celebrated quack-doctors, in town and country. Rock, whose Viper...

Sequah – a Victorian Celebrity Quack

Source: The Graphic 11 July 1891 . From the moment of his sudden rise to fame in Portsmouth in 1887, Sequah knew how to win friends and influence people. He built up an almost cult-like following by...

The Balm of Zura, or Phoenix of Life

Source: Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, 3 April 1823 Much of the evidence on this one is anecdotal, but the proprietor of the Balm of Zura, Dr A. Lamert, certainly sounds quite a character. Lamert was the...