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The Mesmerist


At the beginning of the 1800s, surgery was a brutal affair. If you needed to have a tumour removed or a leg hacked off, the most surgeons could offer by way of relief was a large swig of brandy. In addition, the medical profession was riddled with nepotism and corruption so that it was who – rather than what – you knew that was more important than knowledge. Into this arena came two ambitious young men – Thomas Wakley and John Elliotson. These two were avid consumers of the latest scientific views and findings. Together they promoted the idea of public hospitals that were more than slaughterhouses. But as with every dramatic rise, there came a fall. And that fall began in the summer of 1837, when a French visitor, the self-styled Baron Jules Denis Dupotet, arrived to promote the practice of mesmerism.

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SKU: 9781474602310 Category: Tags: , ,


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, theLancet, 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.

Additional information

Weight 0.316 kg
Dimensions 19.9 × 13.5 × 2.4 cm






311 , 8 unnumbered of plates




610.9034 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K