Illness at the Inn

F.B. Smith

  • Endangered Lives: Public Health in Victorian Britain by Anthony Wohl
    Dent, 440 pp, £17.50, May 1983, ISBN 0 460 04252 1

This is a formidable contribution to the new history of health and ill-health. The new history is concerned with endemic disease and illness rather than with epidemics because, even in the short run, endemic illnesses kill, disable and make wretched many more human beings than the more spectacular epidemics with their abundance of bizarre incidents and accessible evidence. Rather than merely recount the course of an epidemic, the new historians try to encompass the environmental, social and political contexts of health and ill-health and, within these contexts, to explain the responses of patients, sanitarians, doctors and ratepayers. This programme looks straightforward but until now it has rarely been attempted.

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