Rewriting the history of the vaccine

The origins of vaccination have always been clouded in myth, subjectivity or confusion over historical facts. Patrick J. Pead’s new book Benjamin Jesty, the Grandfather of Vaccination is a comprehensive, academic work of reference which presents an intriguing narrative with a radical perspective in order to set the record straight.

Spanning the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this book tells the story of the ingenious Dorset farmer Benjamin Jesty, who conceived the use of cowpox as a vaccine to protect his family against the dreaded disease of smallpox in 1774. This development from the practice of variolation with smallpox took place 22 years before Dr Edward Jenner used a similar process.

Analysing relevant primary sources with an innovative approach, the author seeks to establish Jesty’s intellectual property for the first use of an empirical vaccine. Geographical awareness of Jesty’s endeavour in Georgian England is examined in depth, together with those persons forming links between Jenner and Jesty and the resultant implications.

Benjamin Jesty was once described as ‘the man who history forgot’, but the findings of this new research suggest it is now time to honour him with the credit he deserves.

The study has been met, deservedly, with a wealth of critical praise from historians, some of which you can read below:

“[This book is] a meticulously researched text, against which any future biography will require to be compared.”
Journal of Medical Biography

“This book is well written and is a true labour of love, providing an extremely thorough account of Jesty’s role in the discovery of vaccination.”
British Society for the History of Medicine

“I hope to make good use of [this book] in my history of medicine teaching at Durham.”
Professor A-H Maehle
History of Medicine and Medical Ethics, Durham University, UK

“[This] book on Benjamin Jesty, which looks fantastic, I will recommend to all here.”
Professor Mark Jackson
Director, Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, UK

“It is a wonderful work, summarizing the history with great balance.”
Professor Barry Coller
Rockefeller University, USA

“[It is] a significant contribution to history.”
Professor Jeffery Baker
Duke University, USA

“I am at a loss for words to convey my admiration for [this work’s] achievement.”
Professor Samuel Katz
Duke University, USA

Cambridge Scholars are delighted to be offering a 25% discount on the book to celebrate its release. Just use the code ‘JESTY25’ when purchasing the book on our website.

Happy reading!

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