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British Society for the History of Pharmacy

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Our events programme covers a wide range of pharmacy history topics.  We hold 3 evening meetings each year, and annual conference, a summer visit, and a joint meeting with a School of Pharmacy.  Click on an event below to find out more.
Maplethorpe Lecture Theatre, UCL School of Pharmacy, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX
Monday 15 October 201817:30
Cost: free

James Parkinson (1755-1824) was an apothecary surgeon who lived and worked all his life in Hoxton, then a village on the outskirts of London. In 1817 he published his seminal Essay on the Shaking Palsy, which for the first time defined the condition known to us as Parkinson’s disease, although the disease would not be named after him for another 50 years. 

This talk will examine the many and varied achievements of this most remarkable man, as detailed in Cherry Lewis’s recent biography of Parkinson.

Throughout his life Parkinson championed the poor and underprivileged, writing medical works to help people assess whether or not to afford a physician, and advice on what to do when they were ill. During the 1790s – the age of revolution – he became politically active and wrote dangerously seditious pamphlets that harangued an incompetent and corrupt government, and which demanded votes for all. Caught up in an alleged plot to kill King George III, he put his own life on the line while trying to save his friends.

However, it was for his favourite science – the study of fossils – that he became internationally famous during his lifetime. His exquisitely illustrated Organic Remains of a Former World revealed a world hitherto unknown; a planet littered with ‘wrecks of an early Creation … entombed in the bowels of the earth’, that was populated with ‘hyenas the size of bears’ and the ‘relics of a tribe of enormous marine animals’, all of which both enthralled and terrified his readers. 

Cherry Lewis trained as a geologist, working in the oil industry for many years before moving back to her alma mater, the University of Bristol. There she was responsible for publicising the University’s research achievements to the press and the general public. Cherry is now an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol where she pursues her interest in the history of science and medicine.

 Attendance free, no need to book, refreshments from 17:00.


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