New book: The History of Medicine in 100 Facts

The History of Medicine in 100 Facts book

The history of medicine is a vast subject, encompassing the whole of humanity in every region of the globe. For millennia, our ancestors have sought to combat disease, relieve pain and postpone the Grim Reaper’s inevitable victory, doing so with a fortitude and humour that makes their experiences resonate with …

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Luminous spectres and electrical kisses

Decapitation - from 'How to Entertain a Social Party' 1875

The Quack Doctor wishes you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Thank you to all who have read the blog, bought the books, liked and shared my posts on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, or been in touch to share fascinating family history stories and pictures of medical ephemera during …

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A Patent-Medicine Song, 1892

Some of the most famous patent medicine brands of the late Victorian era found their way into this humorous song by John Johnston, MD, in 1892. Originally from Dumfriesshire, Johnston settled in Bolton in the 1870s and worked as a general practitioner, also devoting time to literary pursuits. During the …

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Goat testicles and great stories! An interview with film director Penny Lane

In Depression-era Kansas, small-town doctor J R Brinkley made a fortune from his novel method of treating impotence. It was startling, sensationally popular… and a total con. His strange career has inspired filmmaker Penny Lane (right) to create a documentary, NUTS! The Brinkley Story, which uses animation and original footage …

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What the Apothecary Ordered

WTAO - inside pages

I’m delighted to announce that 10 August is the UK publication day for a pocket volume I compiled for Old House Books, an imprint of Shire Publications. What the Apothecary Ordered gathers together some of the more peculiar remedies of the last two millennia, and presents them alongside evocative images …

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History Carnival 132

The March of Intellect

It might be 1 April but there are no fools in the history blogosphere if the last month is anything to go by. I’m pleased to present History Carnival 132, showcasing some of the fascinating blog posts published in March. Thank you to all who submitted articles for inclusion. The …

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History Carnival – nominations please!

The Quack Doctor will be hosting the April edition of The History Carnival, a monthly showcase for the latest history blogging, and you are invited to nominate posts for inclusion. The Carnival is a fun way to share news, views and research as well as to discover other bloggers writing …

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Mr Grimstone and the Revitalised Mummy Pea

Grimstone ad, 1840

In a Highgate garden known as the Herbary grew plants destined to invigorate nostrils all over the world. Savory, rosemary and lavender scented the air, while orris-root thrived under the carefully cultivated soil. Dried, powdered and mixed with salt, they would become Grimstone’s Eye Snuff, promising to cure cataracts, eradicate …

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The Yankee Rubber Baby

ADvent Calendar Day 16 I’ve been studying Victorian advertising for about five years now and the products that bring astonishment and chuckles from others usually appear very bog-standard to me. This, however, remains the strangest ad I have seen in all that time. It often crops up in the Illustrated …

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The Quack Doctor Book

I’ve written a book! It is out now and I must embark on the excruciating task of self-promotion, about which I ought to have learnt something from the quacks by this time. Unfortunately I can’t promise that this book is made from rare ingredients known to ancient tribespeople, that it …

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