The Empress and the English Doctor

Pages: 336
Subject: History
Imprint: Oneworld

The Empress and the English Doctor

How Catherine the Great defied a deadly virus

Lucy Ward

The astonishing true story of how Catherine the Great joined forces with a Quaker doctor from Essex to spearhead one of the first global public health campaigns.
9780861542451 (7 Apr 2022)
RRP £20.00 / US$30.00

The Book

A killer disease … an all-powerful Empress … an extraordinary encounter … the astonishing true story.

No disease sparked as much dread in the eighteenth century as smallpox. It killed children all across Europe with ruthless efficiency and those lucky enough to survive were disfigured with the tell-tale pitted scars. But a method offered hope in preventing serious infection: inoculation, the practice of inserting smallpox pustules into an open wound. Those inoculated were protected from death.

Only one problem remained: convincing people to take the treatment. A pamphleteering war raged in Europe about the risks and benefits of inoculation, and public resistance ran high. Catherine the Great broke the deadlock by requesting that a young Essex doctor, Thomas Dimsdale, inoculate her. Lucy Ward expertly unveils how this extraordinary situation came about - and how it kickstarted a trend of inoculations all over Europe.

This is a fascinating history of Enlightenment ideals, political intrigue, and the human quest to cure disease.

Additional Information

Subject History
Pages 336
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Lucy Ward is a former journalist for the Guardian, currently working in communications. As a Westminster Lobby correspondent, she campaigned for greater women's representation and secured the first ever Lobby job share. From 2010-12, she lived with her partner and her three children in Moscow, renewing her interest in Russian history. She lives in Essex.