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Dr Huxley’s Bequest: A History of Medicine in Thirteen Objects

2018 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments 

Two girls are given charge of a box of precious artefacts, a bequest from Dr Huxley to a university. From the eye of Horus to a box marked ‘Dried Smallpox Vaccine NOT FOR INJECTION’, they tell the story of the history of medicine. But the girls — and a mischievous turtle — accidentally destroy the notes that explain the objects. They race from library to museum to discover the significance of the mysterious items in time for their exhibition.

Demonstrating a breadth and depth of research, Dr Huxley’s Bequest effortlessly surveys the evolution of medicine across time and cultures. It also illuminates for younger readers the research process, including the role of serendipity. The work is also public history, in that it draws on material culture, place and cultural institutions to present the past.