a curious invitation last tuesday society
a curious invitation robert carlyles house last tuesday society national trust london
Dr Richard Barnett with the national trust at Carlyle's House


The Hidden History of the Surgical Revolution
with Dr Richard Barnett

Thursday 2nd June 2016
Doors open at 6:30 pm, Talk commences at 7:00 pm and ends at 8:00 pm

Anaesthesia and antisepsis revolutionised nineteenth-century surgery, turning a gory trade into a clinical profession and saving countless lives. Well into the 1840s, surgeons dressed in their street clothes set to work on patients who remained awake throughout their ordeal. Operations were fast, in the hope of minimising pain, shock and blood loss, and mortality rates were high. Within two generations operating theatres had come to resemble laboratories, with surgeons and nurses clad in sterile gowns and working in near-silence. But there’s much more to this story than heroic surgeons and brilliant inventions. Does what surgeons know matter more than what they do? Has abstract learning driven refinements in operative technique, or have original ideas about the body emerged when a culture’s attitude to health and sickness began to change? And what did all this mean for the silent partners in surgical history – patients?

In this illustrated talk Richard Barnett, author of Crucial Interventions, will reveal the hidden history of the surgical revolution – and its connections with our own experiences under the knife.

Dr Richard Barnett
Richard Barnett is a writer, teacher and broadcaster on the history of science and medicine. He teaches the history of disease and the history of evolution on the Pembroke-Kings Programme in Cambridge, and in 2011 he received one of the first Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowships. His first book, Medical London: City of Diseases: City of Cures, was a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4, and his The Sick Rose was described by Will Self in the Guardian as 'superbly lucid and erudite'. His latest book is Crucial Interventions: An Illustrated Treatise on the Principles and Practice of Nineteenth-Century Surgery. He has made many appearances on UK & US TV & radio, and you can find him online at richardbarnettwriter.com

Tickets £15 including a glass of prosecco. Please click here to buy.


3rd May 2016
The Engine Room of Literary London: The London Library at 175 with Helen O'Neill

2nd June 2016
The Hidden History of the Surgical Revolution with Richard Barnett

7th July 2016
Iain Sinclair on Walking the Ginger Line

Carlyles house
thomas carlyle's house national trust london