The Victorian imagination was replete with references to death and dying. What was a bad death according to the Victorians? How did it differ from a good death? These and other questions will be explored through a consideration of Victorian visual representations of death. This lecture will look at the troubling issues surrounding dissection, suicide and infanticide, before examining the complex relationship between pain and bad deaths during the nineteenth century. Chronic illness will be addressed along with the role of the hospital and hospice. The potential consolations of pain relief and religion will also be considered. Finally, contemporary ideas surrounding bad deaths will be discussed in relation to their Victorian antecedents: what constitutes a bad death today? And are our attitudes so very different from those of our nineteenth century forebears?
This lecture will be given by Dr Carmen Mangion, an author, researcher and cultural and social historian at Birkbeck College, University of London.