Julie Peakman

'The Prince Regent in a debauched state’, 19th century © Bridgeman Images.

Crime and punishment, theatre, sex, war, and empire.

Opium poppy, white flowers and seed capsule, about 1853, after Miss M.A. Burnett.

Opium has been known and used for more than 7,000 years. A brilliantly researched and wide-ranging study brings its history up to date.

Robert Yeamans (d.1643), disinterred in 1814 by John S. Miller.

A gory, fascinating and highly original study of changing attitudes to death and dead bodies.

Oral history breathes fresh life into a deadly battle of the Second World War.

Title page from an anti-Elliotson book, late 19th century.

Mesmerism was a short-lived phenomenon, but its most celebrated British exponent, John Elliotson, attracted large crowds, which incensed his rivals. 

The court buildings, Dublin. Hand-coloured engraving by James Malton, 1798.

Life for the poor in 18th- and 19th-century Ireland was hard and, for many women, prostitution was the only option. But the bawdy houses were rife with disease and police did little to protect women from violent customers.

Adopting the guise of a man was a path to influence for medieval women. It could be a dangerous one, too.

As the erotic novel appears to be experiencing a renaissance Julie Peakman reflects on 18th-century appetites for pornography.

Courtly love, celebrated in numerous songs and poems, was the romantic ideal of western Europe in the Middle Ages. Yet, human nature being what it is, the realities of sexual desire and the complications it brings were never far away, says Julie Peakman.

Sex, scandals and celebrity were all part of a blame and shame culture that existed in the 18th century, one that often fed off the misfortune of women at the hands of men. Julie Peakman looks at how prostitutes, courtesans and ladies with injured reputations took up the pen in retaliation.