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Catherine the Great: inoculation pioneer

Lucy Ward recounts the story of a Quaker doctor who took up the risky challenge of inoculating an empress against smallpox

Published: April 21, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Lucy Ward speaks to Elinor Evans about the story of English Quaker doctor Thomas Dimsdale, who took up the risky challenge of inoculating Empress Catherine II – Catherine the Great – against smallpox, as a powerful statement at a time when the disease was ravaging Russia and superstition held sway.


Lucy Ward is the author of The Empress and the English Doctor: How Catherine the Great defied a deadly virus (Oneworld Publications, 2022)


Elinor EvansDigital editor

Elinor Evans is digital editor of HistoryExtra.com. She commissions and writes history articles for the website, and regularly interviews historians for the award-winning HistoryExtra podcast


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