The Speckled Monster by Jennifer Lee Carrell
A Historical Tale of Battling the Smallpox Epidemic

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The Speckled Monster tells the dramatic story of two parents who dared to fight back against smallpox.  After barely surviving the agony of smallpox themselves, they flouted eighteenth-century medicine by borrowing folk knowledge from African slaves and Eastern women in frantic bids to protect their children.  From their heroic struggles stems the modern science of immunology as well as the vaccinations that remain our only hope should the disease ever be unleashed again.

Jennifer Lee Carrell transports readers back to the early eighteenth century to tell the tales of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, two iconoclastic figures who helped save London and Boston from the deadliest disease mankind has known.


About Jennifer Lee Carrell

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Jennifer Lee Carrell is the author of The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox and holds her Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Harvard University as well as other degrees in English Literature from Oxford and Stanford universities. She has also taught at Harvard and directed Shakespeare plays for Harvard’s Hyperion Theatre Company. This is her first novel.
Published January 27, 2004 by Plume. 508 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The best parts of Carrell’s narrative involve her careful accounting of the effects of Montagu and Boylston’s daring experiments: “The Earl of Berkeley’s son did marvelously well: only 70 or 80 small pustules which clung to him a mere nine or ten days and then scurfed off, leaving no trace of the...

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Publishers Weekly

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Long before vaccination for smallpox was developed in Europe in the 1790s, people in the Middle East, the Caucasus and Africa knew that small amounts of live smallpox virus injected under the skin would induce a mild form of the disease that rendered a person immune from full-blown smallpox.

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Project MUSE

Here, we follow the life of Zabdiel Boylston, a Boston physician who (like Montagu) bore the telltale scars of a smallpox survivor.

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