Why this book?
Originally published in 1987 this book is a classic text for those studying health and disease in this era. Drawing on diaries and printed materials it explains what people died of in the era and what conditions they lived with. It describes how people responded to ill health both spiritually and medically and it provides a series of case studies to illuminate different aspects of health, including women’s health. Using practitioners’ casebooks, it thinks about the differences between an urban surgeon and the practice of rural physicians. It thus moves beyond generalizations to show that practitioners worked alongside each other to heal patients drawn from different socio-economic backgrounds and that the practice of medicine was supplemented and relied upon interventions by friends, family, and community.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Lucinda McCray Beier's remarkable book, first published in 1987, enters the world of illness in seventeenth-century England, exploring what it was like to be either a sufferer or a healer. A wide spectrum of healers existed, ranging between the housewife, with her simple herbal preparations, local cunning-folk and bonestters, travelling healers, and formally accredited surgeons and physicians. Basing her study upon personal accounts written by sufferers and healers, Beier examines the range of healers and therapies available, describes the disorders people suffered from, and indicates the various ways sufferers dealt with their ailments. She includes several case-studies of healers and…