The Butchering Art: Victorian Medicine, From Blood-Caked Aprons and Body Snatching, to Antiseptic

“Ticketed spectators watched anatomists slice into the distended bellies of decomposing corpses, parts gushing forth not only human blood but also fetid pus. The lilting but incongruous notes of a flute sometimes accompanied the macabre demonstration. Public dissections were theatrical performances,” writes Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris in her new book The Butchering Art, available October 17th. The science and medical historian chronicles the gruesome horrors of an era before antisepsis—when speed was prized over precision—and the pioneering discoveries of Joseph Lister, known as the “father of modern surgery.” Lister’s antiseptic methods meant that injuries like a compound fracture no longer called for amputation. Read More >>

How Fake Science Saved Lives in Victorian London

Fake health news can feel like an epidemic these days, but it was also rampant during the Victorian era, when bodily ailments were often a matter of life-or death. But unlike the questionable remedies you may be familiar with—vaginal steaming for your cramps, or a float tank to chill your anxiety out?—some of the bogus ideas about wellness cultivated in 19th century England actually helped save lives, by bringing public health issues to the forefront. Read More >>

How Infant Corpses Became Prized Medical Specimens

It’s a well-known fact that the cadavers of adult men were utilised in medical research and for educational purposes in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, a new anthropological study from the University of Cambridge offers fascinating details about another common, but poorly documented, area of human medical history. Read More >>