Book coverThis book reveals the ever-present challenges of patient care at the forefront of medical knowledge. Syphilis and gonorrhoea played upon the public imagination in Victorian and Edwardian England, inspiring fascination and fear. Seemingly inextricable from the other great ‘social evil’, prostitution, these diseases represented contamination, both physical and moral. They infiltrated respectable homes and brought terrible suffering and stigma to those afflicted. Medicine, Knowledge and Venereal Diseases takes us back to an age before penicillin and the NHS, when developments in pathology, symptomology and aetiology were transforming clinical practice. This is the first book to examine systematically how doctors, nurses and midwives grappled with new ideas and laboratory-based technologies in their fight against venereal diseases in voluntary hospitals, general practice and Poor Law institutions. It opens up new perspectives on what made competent and safe medical professionals; how these standards changed over time; and how changing attitudes and expectations affected the medical authority and autonomy of different professional groups.


  • ‘Syphilisation and its Discontents: Experimental Inoculation Against Syphilis at the London Lock Hospital’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine (2017): 1–32.
  • ‘Venereology at the Polyclinic: Postgraduate Medical Education Among General Practitioners in England, 1899–1914’, Medical History (2015): 199– 221.
  • ‘Cupid’s Disease: The Unfortunate Marriage of Mrs T— and Medical Responses to the Transmission of Syphilis in the Late-Nineteenth Century’, BSHS Viewpoint (2015): 4–5.
  • ‘“Scientific Truth into Homely Language”: The Training and Practice of Midwives in Ophthalmia Neonatorum, 1895–1914’, Social History of Medicine (2014): 199–220.


  • ‘“The Great Foe to the Reproduction of the Race”: Diagnosing and Treating Venereal Diseases-Induced Infertility, 1880–1914’, Tracey Loughran and Gayle Davis (eds), Infertility in History: Approaches, Contexts and Perspectives (London: Palgrave, 2017), 335–58.

Digital Scholarship

Book Reviews 

  • Contesting Medical Confidentiality: Origins of the Debate in the United States, Britain and Germany by Andreas-Holger Maehle, British Journal for the History of Science (2018).
  • Intrusive Interventions: Public Health, Domestic Space, and Infectious Disease Surveillance in England, 1840–1914 by Graham Mooney, British Journal for the History of Science (2016).
  • The London Lock Hospital in the Nineteenth Century: Gender, Sexuality and Social Reform by Maria Isabel Romero Ruiz, Social History of Medicine (2016).
  • The Making of Modern Anthrax, 1875–1920 by James F. Stark, Centre for Medical Humanities, University of Durham (2015).
  • Nights Out: Life in Cosmopolitan London by Judith Walkowitz, Journal of Social History (2015).