This is a long entry - so stick with me...
Ages ago while i was beginning to research the Bronte's lives and the connections to the weather i noticed (from the Shacklton weather records kept from 1801 until 1857) that the year that Branwell Bronte and Emily Bronte died of TB, 1848, had very high rainfall: 40.38 inches when the average rainfall was 32 inches. And of course Anne died of TB in May 1849. So i started to wonder if there is a connection between wet weather having a bad affect on TB. I've tried to get hold of historical writings on TB and also to look at contemporary reports too. However it's not been that easy to find any research that links the two.
I got an email this week in reply to one of my enquiries from Professor Flurin Condrau from the Medizinhistorisches Insitut und Museum at the Universitat Zurich in Switzerland. My main question was: are there any reports that directly link wet weather to TB? Here is his reply (shortened version)
Your project sounds really interesting. It's funny that you ask these questions because it has to be one of the most relevant yet strangely underresearched themes.
The relation between TB and weather, or better still, climate is subject to an enormous literature often connected to the Alps. In other words, it's not so much about whether it rains or doesn't but whether high altitude might offer protection from TB. Of course, weather is itself something that needs to be culturally read - recently moving from Britain to Switzerland has taught me a lot about cultural readings of weather - so I doubt whether your question can find an answer: did bad weather contribute to the Bronte's TB.
OK? I hope this helps. I would be interested to hear more about this project as and when.
Good luck with the work!
All good wishes,
All good wishes,
I'm thrilled he took the time to reply and in his email were a couple of names and links to things i should read. So, my quest continues.
The image above is a photocopy of Patrick Bronte's medical handbook that he kept in the Parsonage. Of Tubercular Consumption it says (amongst other things):
" The following draught is much worthy of attention as a palliative for the cough:
Take of extract of hemlock, extract of henbane, of each, five grains; mucilage of gum arabic, two drachms. Rub these well together until they are thoroughly incorporated, then add, acetated liquor of ammonia, pure water, of each, half an once; syrup, one drachm. This makes a draught, to be taken every four hours."
Not sure about that myself - hemlock and henbane?
The handwriting at the bottom of the text is Patrick Bronte's and he comments:"Mr S..... surgeon, Leeds, said that change of place or climate, could prove beneficial, only in the early stage of consumption - that afterwards, the excitment caused by change of scene, and beds, and strange company, did harm."