R. M. Murray and T. H. Turner (eds.), Lectures on the history of psychiatry: the Squibb series, London, Gaskell (an imprint of the Royal College of Psychiatrists), 1990, 8vo, pp. xi, 223, illus., £10.00 (paperback)
This valuable biography plus bibliography lists over a thousand individuals and numerous journals and institutions, the entries ranging from very brief to highly informative, and the whole supported by over two thousand bibliographical references. Problems of selection must have been great but the result achieved is wide in scope and rich in content. An outline of the author's interpretation of the history of phrenology serves as an introductory guide, and some themes are implicit in the
... licit in the selection of biographical material. Phrenology, as a "philosophical" pursuit or as a popular "science", touched on so many fields of interest-from orthodox and heterodox medicine to radical politics and religion-that a wide range of scholars will find this volume an illuminating source of reference. And local historians, even if their more obscure phrenologists do not appear, are likely to be rewarded with entries shining unexpected light onto their concerns. The focus of interest of modern scholars on phrenology during the first half of the nineteenth century is reflected, for example, in a contrast between the detailed itemization of communications to the Phrenological Journal (1823-47) and a much restricted selection of papers from phrenological periodicals late in the century. But its final decades, and even those of the early twentieth century, are not neglected. The "professors" and "pier phrenologists" are recorded, and some who "read heads" on Blackpool sands. A book so full of interest invites browsing; but references to topics or to persons not listed alphabetically in the biographies can be traced through an efficient index. This allows easy access to entries recording the association of phrenologists with, say, Swedenborgianism, Methodism, socialism or geology, or identifying practitioners active in particular parts of the country. A select bibliography of modern writings about phrenology rounds off a volume replete with well presented information.