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The Mesmerist: The Society Doctor Who Held Victorian London Spellbound
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Wendy Moore
The Mesmerist: The Society Doctor Who Held Victorian London Spellbound by Wendy Moore at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Mesmerist: The Society Doctor Who Held Victorian London Spellbound

Wendy Moore



Biography: science, technology & engineering;
History of medicine;
Mathematics & Sciences


320 pages

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Medicine, in the early 1800s, was a brutal business. Operations were performed without anaesthesia while conventional treatment relied on leeches, cupping and toxic potions. The most surgeons could offer by way of pain relief was a large swig of brandy.

Onto this scene came John Elliotson, the dazzling new hope of the medical world. Charismatic and ambitious, Elliotson was determined to transform medicine from a hodge-podge of archaic remedies into a practice informed by the latest science. In this aim he was backed by Thomas Wakley, founder of the new magazine, the Lancet, and a campaigner against corruption and malpractice.

Then, in the summer of 1837, a French visitor - the self-styled Baron Jules Denis Dupotet - arrived in London to promote an exotic new idea: mesmerism. The mesmerism mania would take the nation by storm but would ultimately split the two friends, and the medical world, asunder - throwing into focus fundamental questions about the fine line between medicine and quackery, between science and superstition.

By:   Wendy Moore
Imprint:   Orion
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 233mm,  Width: 154mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   408g
ISBN:   9781474602303
ISBN 10:   1474602304
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   April 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Author Website:

Wendy Moore is a freelance journalist and author. Her first book, THE KNIFE MAN, won the Medical Journalists' Association Consumer Book Award in 2005 and was shortlisted for both Saltire and the Marsh Biography Awards. Her second book, WEDLOCK, has been highly acclaimed in reviews and was chosen as one of the ten titles in the Channel 4 TV Book Club. HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT WIFE was published to rapturous reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

Wendy Moore has written a thrilling account of this odd byway of medical history...she has successfully taken a historical episode and used it to colour in the world of 19th-century scientific endeavour and its attempts to uncover the still-unexplained mysteries of the human unconscious. -- Lucy Lethbridge LITERARY REVIEW Engrossing...her social history of Victorian medicine, which struggled with innovation and provision for the poor, also feels rivetingly topical...[A] witty and instructive tale. -- Miranda Seymour DAILY TELEGRAPH Elliotson, as Moore's engrossing study describes, became passionate about hypnosis, under which (he tried to prove) a patient could have surgery without pain. His demonstrations became as fashionable as any theatre - but was it fraud? SUNDAY TELEGRAPH The enthralling story of the Victorian doctor who claimed patients could be cured and operated on with hypnosis - only to be branded a fraud by the medical establishment. Today he's been triumphantly vindicated. DAILY MAIL Charles Dickens, as it happens, has a cameo role in Moore's book. Sceptical at first about the powers of mesmerism, the novelist became a convert after witnessing one of the many sessions run by John Elliotson, the doctor who helped to start a craze for putting Londoners, sick and healthy alike, into trances -- Clive Davis THE TIMES Lively...Moore tells her story with gusto -- Lucy Hughes-Hallett THE OBSERVER Fascinating...she brings the London medical world to vivid life. Elliotson's experiments were covered in lavish detail by contemporary journals, but Moore has made this an altogether richer story by judicious use of details gleaned from diaries, case reports and hospital archives. -- Thomas Morris TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT Extraordinary...Wendy Moore is an expert guide to the world of early 19th-century medicine, and this fascinating book is packed with buccaneering, larger-than-life doctors and gruesome operations, as well as the minutely documented antics of the Okey sisters. -- Jane Ridley THE SPECTATOR Medicine in Victorian Britain was brutish and operations were performed without anaesthetic. Enter the self-styled Baron Dupotet, promoting hypnosis. Crowds flocked to see Elizabeth and Jane Okey mesmerised then suffer electric shocks or have nails hammered through their cheeks. So was his mesmerism quackery or real medical aid? -- John Lewis Stempel SUNDAY EXPRESS

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