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The promotion and pursuit of health, 1780-1880

By Timothy Harvey Davies


This thesis represents an attempt to encourage a new perspective on health in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth century by concentrating on the ‘mundane maladies’ of the middle classes. The conventional approach to studies of urban health has been to concentrate on the killer diseases of the period. Thus tuberculosis, cholera and typhoid have all received much attention. But what about the everyday experience of health and illness? It is largely unrecorded as the occasional bout of stomach ache, constipation or chesty cough was rarely thought to be noteworthy, except by the odd hypochondriac. However, with the aid of advertisements for health and beauty products published in the provincial press, it is possible to explore the experience of less dramatic and less debilitating ailments. \ud This study, therefore, has analysed the language and strategies employed by advertisers of health and beauty products and services to gain a clearer understanding of the middle-class experience of health and ill-health. Whilst product names and descriptions reveal the range of ‘mundane maladies’ that beset the middle classes, the language employed to sell them offers an indication of the public’s beliefs and expectations surrounding health. Attention has also been paid on how beauty products were employed to manage external appearances. As towns and cities grew during the late-eighteenth and nineteenth century, individuals increasingly judged others by their appearance. By analysing the language used to sell beauty products, it is possible to gain an insight into how members of the middle class wished to be perceived

Topics: Cosmetics, Health, Leicester, Liverpool, Middle classes, Patent medicines, Personal appearance, Reading (the town)
Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/7828

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