Dr Claire Brock

Associate Professor

School/Department: Arts, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2533



Between 2012 and 2014 I held a Wellcome Trust Research Leave Award; the findings of which are published as British Women Surgeons and their Patients 1860-1918 (CUP 2017).

I was the recipient of the British Society for the History of Science’s prestigious Singer Prize for young scholars in 2005. My winning article ‘The Public Worth of Mary Somerville’ was published in the British Journal for the History of Science in June 2006.

I received my BA and MA from Cardiff University and my PhD from the University of Warwick. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 


My research interests include gender and medicine (especially women surgeons), the history of surgery, patient narratives, nineteenth-century scientific literature, and medicine and literature in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am currently working on two monograph projects: Women Surgeons 1918-1939 and Surgery at Home, 1880-1930. Recent articles have focused closely on patient voices, disability, and the clinical encounter.

My publications include three monographs: British Women Surgeons and their Patients 1860-1918 (Cambridge University Press); The Feminization of Fame 1750-1830 (Palgrave Macmillan); and The Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel’s Astronomical Ambition (Icon).

I have recently written the ODNB biographies of woman surgeon and female health and welfare campaigner Florence, Lady Barrett (1867-1945) and gynaecological surgeon Ethel Vaughan-Sawyer (1868-1949), and four volumes on the global impact of women and medicine in the long nineteenth century (2024) for Routledge Historical Resources: c19 Science Technology Medicine



Women and Medicine in the Long Nineteenth Century, IV Volumes (London: Routledge, 2024).

British Women Surgeons and their Patients, 1860-1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017; paperback 2019) For Open Access to this monograph, please visit:

New Audiences for Science: Women, Children, and Labourers, Volume V of Victorian Literature and Science, eds., Bernard Lightman and Gowan Dawson (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2012).

The Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel's Astronomical Ambition
, 'Revolutions in Science' Series (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2007; reissued 2017).

The Feminization of Fame, 1750-1830 (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).


'The Child Surgical Patient in the Early Twentieth Century', Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 78.2 (April 2023), 149-170. Available via Open Access:

'Surgery, Success, and the Role of the Patient in Cleft Palate Operations, c.1800-1930', Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society, 113.1 (March 2022), 22-44.

'The Disappearance of Sophia Frances Hickman, M.D.', History Workshop Journal, 80.1 (Autumn 2015), 161-182.

'Risk, Responsibility and Surgery in the 1890s and Early 1900s', Medical History, 57.3 (July 2013), 317-337. Available via Open Access:

'Surgical Controversy at the New Hospital for Women, 1872-1892', Social History of Medicine, 24.3 (December 2011), 608-623.

'Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the Professionalism of Medical Publicity, special issue: A Cultural History of Celebrity, International Journal of Cultural Studies, 11 (2008), 323-344.

'The Public Worth of Mary Somerville', British Society for the History of Science Singer Prize winning article, British Journal for the History of Science, 39.2 (June 2006), 255-272.

'William Hazlitt: On Being Brilliant', Studies in Romanticism, 44.4 (Winter 2005), 493-513.

'Rousseauvian Remains', History Workshop Journal, 55 (Spring 2003), 136-153.

'Then smile and know thyself supremely great: Mary Robinson and the splendour of a name', Women's Writing, 9.1 (2002), 107-124.

Book chapters

'Women in Surgery After the Great War', in The Palgrave Handbook of Women and Science since 1660, ed., Claire G. Jones, Alison E. Martin, and Alexis Wolf (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), pp.593-610.

'Scientific and Medical Genres', in The History of British Women's Writing, 1830-1880, ed., Lucy Hartley (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp.229-243.

'Women in Surgery: Patients and Practitioners', in The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery, ed., Thomas Schlich (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp.133-152.

'The Fitness of the Female Medical Student, 1895-1910', in Francesca Scott, Kate Scarth and Ji Won Chung, eds., Picturing Women's Health (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014), pp.139-157.

The Lancet and the Campaign Against Women Doctors, 1860-1880', in Amanda Mordavsky Caleb, ed., (Re)Creating Science in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, Publishing, 2007), pp.130-145.

Essay reviews

'Astronomical Ambition', History Workshop Journal, 61 (Spring 2006), 249-255.
'Public Experiments', History Workshop Journal, 58 (Autumn 2004), 306-312.

I have also reviewed works in the following areas:

  • ballet;
  • surgery on television (The Knick);
  • Russian history;
  • women's writing in Britain, Europe and America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries;
  • metropolitan geographical space and architecture;
  • literature and science;
  • scientific writing (both primary reprints and secondary criticism).


I would welcome postgraduate students (MA or PhD) with research interests in any of the following:

• Gender, health, and medicine.

• Science, medicine, and literature in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

• History of surgery.

• The body.

• Clinical encounters and patient narratives from late 19th century to present.

I have supervised 8 PhDs to completion and am currently supervising research on the Story of COVID-19 (Esther Kentish); the Brontë family's writings about illness and recovery (Rawan Alnefaee); the representations and realities of pregnancy in Georgian Britain (Amber Vella); female identity and relationships in the lives and writings of the Potter sisters (Florence Heath); the trajectory of care in narratives of the late modern period (Mariella Scerri); slumming reconceived: empire, Oriental imagery, and middle-class ideology in Victorian Britain (Wen-wei Wu); the institutionalisation of the insane poor: causes; treatment and recovery in Victorian Leicester (Carrie Laverick); navigating workhouses 1834-1896 (Caroline Walton).


I teach across the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, and my modules include the MA courses Women in Literature Culture and Society, 1850-1900 and Bodies: 1850-1918.

Press and media

Women and medicine (especially surgery); the patient in historical context.

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