Not Just For Kissing: Medicinal Uses of Mistletoe (Past & Present)

Ah, December. That time of year when mistletoe springs up magically in entrance halls and doorways, driving unsuspecting individuals into an awkward embrace before they make a mad dash for the booze. Today, we associate mistletoe with smooching; however, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, the poisonous, parastic plant has a long association with medicine, and in the past would have been recognized by doctors as a vital ingredient in the treatment of various disorders. One of the first records of mistletoe being used medicinally comes from Hippocrates (460 - 377 BC) who used the plant to treat diseases [...]

By |December 22nd, 2015|9 Comments

Hold The Butter! A Brief History of Gorging

’Tis the season for overeating! Mince pies, buttery rolls, homemade stuffing, turkey joints…all topped off with a dollop of cranberry sauce. In January, we’ll all heave a collective groan as we step onto the scales for the first time and face the consequences of our gluttony.

By |November 26th, 2015|6 Comments

Slashing Throats for 170 Years: The “Real” Sweeney Todd

To most people, Sweeney Todd needs no introduction, thanks in part to Tim Burton’s 2007 adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical, starring Johnny Depp as the throat-slashing barber of Fleet Street. In the movie, Todd dumps the bodies of his victims into the basement, where their bones are stripped of flesh and made into pies by his wicked accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, played in Burton’s film by Helena Bonham Carter. Those familiar with the movie know how the story ends. But what they may not know is that this tale is nearly 170 years old. The story of Sweeney Todd first appeared [...]

By |October 30th, 2015|8 Comments

Vampire Legends – PBS & More 4

I'm excited to announce that I will be appearing on VAMPIRE LEGENDS on PBS tonight (October 27th) at 9 pm EST. This show will also air as BRITAIN'S MEDIEVAL VAMPIRES on More 4 this Halloween at 9 pm GMT. I'll be discussing medical conditions which may have contributed to vampire myths in the past. I hope you enjoy it!

By |October 27th, 2015|10 Comments

THE BUTCHERING ART – Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You!

I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be working with FSG-Scientific American (an imprint of Macmillan) on a book project. The Butchering Art will take readers on a gruesome journey into the world of pre-antiseptic surgery. Further details in the press release below! Thanks to everyone who has supported and nurtured my dreams as a writer. I couldn't have gotten to this exciting stage without you.

By |October 10th, 2015|19 Comments

“Scary Sexual Devices” in PENTHOUSE!

I'm excited to announce that my article on "Scary Sexual Devices from the Past" is featured in PENTHOUSE this month, no doubt killing the mood of readers everywhere! It's a three-page spread which has been brilliantly illustrated by British cartoonist, Adrian Teal. In it, I discuss everything from testicle tasters, to radium condoms, molly dolls, and more. If you're too shy to buy a copy in the store, you can download it digitally here. Enjoy!

By |September 19th, 2015|0 Comments

Dead Men’s Eyes: A History of Optography

Aurora, Illinois. 16 February 1914. It was a cold, wintery night when Theresa Hollander’s father discovered her broken and bloodied body near a shed in St. Nicholas’s Cemetery. The 20-year-old (pictured below) had been brutally beaten to death with a wooden club, which had been discarded along with the girl’s corpse amongst the tombstones. Much to her father’s horror, Theresa’s eyes were wide open, her hands clutched in frozen agony.

By |September 9th, 2015|18 Comments

The Embalmed Soldiers of the American Civil War

Thomas Holmes—the “Father of Modern Embalming”—had an unusual way of advertising his services throughout the American Civil War. During one of his many excursions to the front, the surgeon plucked the body of an unknown soldier from the battlefield and brought it back to Washington D.C. There, he washed the corpse and injected it with his patented “safe” embalming fluid, which he claimed was free from toxins. He then dressed the soldier in a fine set of clothes and put him on display in his shop window for all to see.

By |August 26th, 2015|18 Comments