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Letter from Queen Victoria, Windsor, England, 1859

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Dated 21 December 1859, this letter was written by Queen Victoria (1819-1901). Victoria writes in the third-person praising the doctor attending the labour of a woman called Minnie. She states she is ‘very glad to hear Minnie is going on so well & had the inestimable blessing of chloroform which no one can ever be sufficiently grateful for’. It is unclear who Minnie was. We can assume she was a woman of high standing because only the wealthy could afford an obstetrician. She could have been one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting. Queen Victoria enthused in her journal about the use of chloroform. She persuaded many women that anaesthetic gas was safe for use in childbirth. Chloroform was administered to Victoria by royal physician John Snow (1813-58) at the births of Prince Leopold in 1853 and Princess Beatrice in 1857.

Object number:

1992-295

 

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    Glossary:

    Glossary: obstetrics

    A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.

    Glossary: chloroform

    A liquid formerly used as a general anaesthetic although no longer used for this purpose as it causes liver damage and affects the heart rate. It is now used in low concentration to treat flatulence.

    Glossary: letter - correspondence

    Pieces of correspondence that are somewhat more formal than memoranda or notes, usually on paper and delivered.