Medical Meddlers, Mediums and Magicians: The Victorian Age of Credulity

Overview

An exploration of how and why an era underpinned by science and logic was also so rife with quacks and conjurers

The Victorians had a thirst for knowledge, which drove them to explore the unchartered corners of the world, plumb the unfathomable depths of science, discover evolution, and create some of the engineering and architectural marvels of the world. Yet this open-mindedness also at times made them utterly gullible. Because of their closeness to ...

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Medical Meddlers, Mediums and Magicians

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Overview

An exploration of how and why an era underpinned by science and logic was also so rife with quacks and conjurers

The Victorians had a thirst for knowledge, which drove them to explore the unchartered corners of the world, plumb the unfathomable depths of science, discover evolution, and create some of the engineering and architectural marvels of the world. Yet this open-mindedness also at times made them utterly gullible. Because of their closeness to disease and the ever-present threat of their own mortality, it was inevitable that they would be open to the claims of quacks who promised all kinds of panaceas, and to mediums who offered a means of communicating with the dead. So too did it make them eager for diversion and entertainment by the conjurers and illusionists of the great music halls. Strangely, it was through the magic-making skill of the conjurers that the activities of many of the tricksters and fraudulent mediums finally came to be exposed. This look at the Victorians’ gullibility in matters of life, death, and entertainment is a box of delights for all students of Victoriana.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780752461151
  • Publisher: The History Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Souter is a retired general practitioner and the author of 20 books, including The Little Book of Genius.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 6

Author's Note 7

Introduction 9

Part 1 Medical Meddlers 15

1 A Majestic Medical Meddler 16

2 The Golden Age of Quackery 21

3 Water, Electricity and Fresh Air 35

4 Physiognomy 47

5 Phrenology 56

6 Dental Meddlers 67

7 Snake Oil, Hair Tonics and Carbolic Smoke 75

Part 2 Mediums 80

8 The Coming of Spiritualism 81

9 Psychic Phenomena and SĂ©ances 94

10 Materialisation 105

11 Ghost Hunters and Psychic Investigation 113

12 Theosophy 126

Part 3 Magicians 131

13 From Ancient Egypt to English Music Halls 132

14 The Egyptian Hall 141

15 The Great Illusionists 150

16 Pepper's Ghost 160

17 The Tricks of the Trade 164

18 The Knight, the Handcuff King and the Electrical Wizard 172

Selected Bibliography 181

Index 184

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