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From blood transfusions to replacement of legs, during Shakespeare’s lifetime was when medical science was trying to figure out the best way to replace broken or damaged body parts with transplants. Having only just discovered that the heart was a muscle, pumping at regular intervals, it was a revolution in medical science to consider each body part as a kind of peice in the mechanism that was the human body. We see these new concepts echoed in the work of our favorite playwright, William Shakespeare when characters like Hamlet and Titus Andronicus talk about the pulse keeping time and the heart beating outrageously. Our guest this week, Paul Craddock, has just published a book on the history of transplant surgery called Spare Parts, in which he details the advancements being made in the medical field during Shakespeare’s lifetime. He joins us today to explain what kinds of surgeries were being done, who the famous players were in the medical community of the day, and exactly what materials they used to accomplish these, often macabre, medical marvels.

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Paul Craddock is a cultural historian and award-winning author based in London. His debut book, Spare Parts, published by Penguin, was a Daily Mail Book of the Week in the UK and won the Special Commendation of the Royal Society of Literature Giles St Aubyn Awards. It will be published in North America by St Martin’s Press on May 10th, 2022.

Paul’s PhD was a cultural history of early modern transplant surgery. He is a Science Museum Group Senior Research Associate, an Honorary Senior Research Associate of UCL’s Division of Surgery, and a Visiting Lecturer at Imperial College London.

Check out Paul's latest book, Spare Parts, on Amazon and anywhere books are sold.

I'll be asking Paul Craddock about:

  • We know that poets wrote plays, but who was it that was writing Herballs? 
  • Were herballs written to catalog the plants that were currently growing in England, or were they use guides for people that wanted to grow these plants?
  • What motivated an author to want to write an herball? Was it purely for profit, or did publishing an herbal help a would-be scientist establish their credibility?
  • …and more!

Books and Resources Paul Craddock recommends:

(Notes below for each record are written by Paul Craddock just for you!):

Spare Parts by Paul Craddock

Shakespeare and the 4 humours :

Ovid’s Metamorpheses

Vesalius’s Fabrica

Bonus Suggestions from Cassidy:

Empire of the Scalpel by Ira Rutkow, From a renowned surgeon and historian with five decades of experience comes a remarkable history of surgery’s development—spanning the Stone Age to the present day—blending meticulous medical studies with lively and skillful storytelling.

 Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England by Alanna Skuse, examines diverse kinds of surgical alteration, from mastectomy to castration, and amputation to facial reconstruction. Body-altering surgeries had profound socio-economic and philosophical consequences. They reached beyond the physical self, and prompted early modern authors to develop searching questions about the nature of body integrity and its relationship to the soul

Gaspare Tagliacozzi and Early Modern Surgery: Faces, Men, and Pain (The Body in the City): This book uses the work of Bolognese physician and anatomist Gaspare Tagliacozzi to explore the social and cultural history of early modern surgery. It discusses how Italian and European surgeons' attitudes to health and beauty – and how patients' gender – shaped views on the public appearance of the human body.

Detailed Show Notes for Patrons! (This post expands!)

There is in depth bonus visual content related to today's episode available for our Loyal Podcast Listeners. Here's what's inside the Detailed Show Notes for this week.

  • On the Fabric of the Human Body, 1543
  • Portrait of Andreas Vesalius from his De humani corporis fabrica.
  • Portrait of Claudius Galenius
  • Galen's Treatise on the Pulse, 1550
  • Diagram of how Galen saw Physiology
  • Verger's Dream painting
  • Valverde de Hamusco; male ecorche, 1556, showing standing musculature
  • 16th century Plastic Surgery Manual by Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599) showing the Skin Graft procedure we talk about in this episode.
  • An experiment from Harvey's de Motu Cordis showing pulse and blood flow (1578-1657)
  • Portrait of François Rabelais, Renaissance Humanist, physicien and teller of grotesque jokes (1483-1559)
  • Portrait of Leonardo Fioravanti (1518 – 1588), Italian Renaissance doctor
Access coordinating visual content including woodcuts, portraits, & maps when you become a patron for just $5