Steve King

Author Biography and Research Interests: 

Steve King is a Professor of History at Oxford Brookes University, Assistant Dean for Resources in the School of Arts and Humanities, as well as Chair of the Wellcome Trust History of Medicine Grant Panel.

Steve King was awarded his PhD in 1994. His research interests are varied, spanning a range of periods, themes and countries, but may be grouped under four broad headings:

  • The history of European industrialisation, with a particular focus on the demography and family and kinship characteristics of industrial populations during the period 1650-1850.
  • The history of British and European poverty and welfare, with a particular focus on the regionality of welfare, the clothing of the poor, pauper letters, the administration of relief and the experience of being poor in the period 1700-1920.
  • History of medicine, with a particular focus on the medical history of industrial England, the sick poor, narratives of sickness, the medical marketplace and doctor-patient relationships in the period 1650-1850.
  • Local history, with a particular focus on family and community history in the period 1700-1900.

His current (funded) research projects include:

  • The English sick poor, 1700-1850. Legal and contractual disputes and the definition of rights of patients and the duties of doctors in eighteenth and nineteenth century England
  • Sickness narratives. Focussing initially on Britain and Europe (with partners in Bergen, Trier, Galway, and Paris) but expanding over time to include collaborative work with colleagues working on oral histories in South Africa and India, this project will analyse the form, content, rhetoric and usage of sickness narratives (letters, diaries etc).
  • The meaning and experience of European mortality rates, focussing on the tendency for the worst mortality risks to be concentrated in a narrow range of families.
  • The Marriage patterns and experiences of the poor 1750-1850.
  • The clothing of the European poor 1750-1850.
  • British and European pauper letters 1800-1920.

Clothing as Medicine

Steve King

17 March 2009; Oxford Brookes

This lecture looks at the inter-relationships between clothing and medicine. It explores some established fields (clothing as protection from disease and clothing and medicine in advice literature for instance), but also a wide range of under-explored topics such as clothing as a vector of disease and clothing as therapy and cure for disease.


Oxford Brookes University



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