Physick and the family

Health, medicine and care in Wales, 1600-1750

Author: Alun Withey

This book provides a complete reappraisal of Welsh medical history in the early modern period. It investigates some of the factors affecting the types and spread of disease in Wales. Studies of disease and the body in popular cultural sources, such as poetry and vernacular verse, contribute to a wider assessment of a 'Welsh' bodily concept. The book explores the importance of geography and regional variation in affecting the sickness experience. It then examines the pathways through which medical information travelled in Wales, through detailed analyses of both oral and literate cultures in early modern Wales. The book also investigates medical material culture within the home in early modern Wales. It further analyses the 'sick role' and the ways in which sufferers both experienced and described their symptoms, foregrounding the growing impact of literacy and letters in sickness self-fashioning. The book looks at the availability of medical care in the early modern community, arguing that sickness served to create a temporary medical family, who provided a comprehensive structure of support from visiting to the provision of physical care. Finally, it argues that Welsh practitioner's desire to adopt English medical nomenclature points to a growing wish to be seen as 'legitimate' practitioners, a view backed up by the increasing numbers of medical licences granted to Welsh physicians.

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Shortlisted for the Longman / History Today Book of the Year, 2013


Winner of the European Association for the History of Health and Medicine book prize, 2013

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