Elizabethan Medicine

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 55 

Being a patient in Shakespeare’s time was an adventure. You might be told to drink liquid gold or syrup of violets.  You might undergo a violent purgation to take the bad humors out of your body. They might draw blood from your ankle or your arm.  But while these prescriptions seem laughable today, elements of the thinking they were based on have come all the way down to us in the 21st century.  That thinking, though it might seem unrelated to Shakespeare's stories, is surprisingly present in his writing.
Neva Grant interviews Gail Kern Paster and Barbara Traister about medicine in the era when Shakespeare was writing. Gail Kern Paster is the Folger’s director emerita, and Barbara Traister is professor emeritus of English at Lehigh University and the author of The Notorious Astrological Physician of London: Works and Days of Simon Forman.

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published August 23, 2016. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. “I Know My Physic Will Work With Him” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer.  It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington. Esther French is the web producer. We had technical help from the News Operations Staff at NPR in Washington, DC.

Interested in learning more about Elizabethan medicine? Read our blog post at Shakespeare & Beyond.