The workshops are run by Hannah Newton, an award winning historian and author at the University of Reading. At the heart of Hannah’s research is an interest in what it was like to be ill, or to witness the illness of a loved one, in the past. By uncovering how patients and their families and carers experienced sickness in the seventeenth century, she hopes to cultivate greater empathy for people suffering illness today.

Hannah has been involved in three main research projects:

The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580-1720 book by Hannah NewtonThe Sick Child: this book provides poignant and rare insights into the experiences of sick children and their families in early modern England, c.1580-1720. It won the European Association of the History of Medicine and Health 2015 Book Prize, and was short-listed for the Longman History Today Book Award.

Misery to Mirth: Recovery from Illness in Early Modern England book by Hannah NewtonMisery to Mirth: this new book turns to the happier subject of recovery from illness in early modern England. Designed to rebalance and brighten our overall picture of health at this time, the book shows that getting better was depicted as a wonderful transformation from misery to mirth. This research was carried out at the University of Cambridge in 2011-14, funded by the Wellcome Trust.

P. Boone, Allegories of the senses.Sensing Sickness: Hannah’s latest project is an investigation into the sensory dimensions of illness. Taking the dual perspectives of patients and their families and carers, it asks what happened to the five senses during serious physical disease, and uncovers the sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations of the early modern sickroom. The medical history workshops are part of this project, and it is funded by the Wellcome Trust.