Oxford £9.99 (412pp) £9.49 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Arsenic Century, By James C. Whorton
Friday 05 August 2011
It's curious how the most unlikely topics can generate books of the utmost interest. Whorton has done this with arsenic poisoning, both deliberate and accidental, in 19th century Britain.
Produced as a by-product of smelting – inspectors spotted enough to "destroy every animal on earth" piled outside a Cornish smelter – it was used by wallpaper makers, brewers, farmers, candlemakers, taxidermists and, yes, poisoners.
Whorton, a professor in the history of medicine, spares us none of the extremely grisly symptoms. Surprisingly, you can happily eat the neat element but 300mg of arsenic trioxide will kill you.
Arsenical wallpaper did not kill Napoleon or Queen Victoria, who had all the wallpaper ripped out of Buckingham Palace in 1879, but it did for many others.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre