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Dr Erin Bramwell

Former Research Student

Erin Bramwell

Thesis Title

Rethinking Patent Medicine Culture in Britain, 1909-1949

Research overview

My research applies spatial and material methodologies to the study of patent medicines. The usage of these methodologies aims to uncover the multi-faceted nature of patent medicines' popularity in twentieth-century Britain, which cannot be reduced to ignorance and gullibility. Within this, the voice of the consumer is emphasised, offering rich and unique insights into the numerous different contexts in which patent medicines were encountered in everyday life. My research engages with a variety of sources, ranging from oral history interviews and Mass Observation to photographs and advertisements.

Web Links

Research Grants

ESRC 1+3 award (ongoing)

ESRC Interdisciplinary Event Fund (awarded August 2017)

Supervised By

Dr James Taylor (Lancaster University)

Professor Sally Sheard (Liverpool University)

Dr Timothy Hickman (Lancaster University)

Current Teaching

HIST100: From Ancient to Modern, Lancaster University

External Roles

North West Medical Humanities PG Network


I am a co-founder of this ESRC-funded network. With other organising members, I manage the network, its mailing list, blog, and Twitter account. I also organise network events; a summary of our last network event can be found here.

Additional Information

Professional training


Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, awarded in June 2018 at Lancaster University. 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Training, Lancaster University, 2-5 June, 2018. 

Curating the Medical Humanities, Birkbeck, 13 September, 2018. 

ESRC Impact Training Workshop, Liverpool, October 2017.

Oral History Society, ‘Introduction to Oral History’ Training, British Library, August 2018.

PGR Interdisciplinarity Training Workshop, Leeds, September 2017. 

Additional Information

Conferences, workshops, and symposiums  


Social Science History Association, 'Beyond Social Science History: Knowledge in an Interdisciplinary World', Chicago 2016

CHORD, 'Retailing, Distribution and Reputation: Historical Perspectives', University of Wolverhampton 2017

Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities at the School of English'Medicine and the Senses', University of Leeds 2017

Patient Voices: Historical and Ethical Engagement with Patient Experiences of Healthcare, 1850-1948, University of Oxford 2017.

Cambridge Body and Food Histories Group, May 2018. ‘Commercial self-prescription medicines and the hygienic landscape of the British interwar home’

Social History Society, Keele University, June 2018. ‘She was very much in charge of the medicine cabinet’: Mothers, Authority, and Self-Prescription in the Interwar British Home’. 

Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, Weetwood Hall, University of Leeds, September 2018. ‘The ‘Forbidden Cupboard’: The Evolution of Medicine Chests, Cupboards, and Cabinets in Modern Britain’.

Additional Information



Guest blog for the Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution, ‘Pharmacy atmosphere: the impact of commercial spaces on patent medicines and their consumers in early twentieth-century Britain’. 3 July, 2017 (invited). https://retailhistory.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/2017-conference-blogs-pharmacy-atmosphere-the-impact-of-commercial-spaces-on-patent-medicines-and-their-consumers-in-early-twentieth-century-britain/


Guest blog post for AHRC Fellowship Endless Possibilities of Rejuvenation: Defying Ageing, Defining Youth in Britain, 1919-1948, 10 October 2017 (invited). https://arts.leeds.ac.uk/medregen/blog/


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