Ophelia Swam

Cover forthcoming. Image credit: “One bouquet per day”

Oxford, 1538:

Sister Grace, Infirmaress of Godstow Nunnery, is faced with helping an unexpected guest: a half-drowned young woman, covered in garlands of flowers and herbs.

When the girl proves unusually adept at herbal remedies, Sister Grace takes her on as an apprentice. But helping with an emergency amputation turns the girl’s interest from matters herbal, to anatomical, as she is compelled to discover the seat of the soul…

A Gothic romance set in Tudor England’s time of upheaval and uncertainty, Ophelia Swam is an illuminating tale of love, grief, and sisterhood, spanning generations of healers.

The novel will be published in early June 2020, with pre-orders available soon! The first edition of 500 copies will be sold through Blackwell’s Bookshops: you can order the book from anywhere in the world, via Blackwell’s.

Ophelia Swam draws on my decade of experience working in the Medical and Health Humanities, and History of Medicine. Many of you know that I’m a long-standing art and culture critic for The Lancet medical journals. I hold an MSc in Medical Humanities, and have taught the subject at Imperial College London and Duke University. I’m also known for my poetry, which draws on the history of science and medicine. In 2016 I was one of the first three poets-in-residence at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

I’m overjoyed to say that the novel is being illustrated by the extraordinary Eleanor Crook, a renowned anatomical artist, and one of the most sought-after sculptors of medical models in Europe. Eleanor specialises in wax, bronze, and wood: one of her many projects is Guy the Gaunt, the first medieval-style cadaver tomb effigy to be carved in over 400 years. This is her first time illustrating a book, and I’m deeply honoured.