Elaine Leong

MPG Minerva Research Group Leader
Department II
Dr. Phil.
1. September 2012 to 28. Februar 2019

I gained my doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford in 2006. Before joining the MPIWG, I was a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick. In 2006 and 2007, I held short-term fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Huntington Library. My article "Making Medicines in the Early Modern Household," (82, 2008) was awarded the 2009 J. Worth Estes Prize by the American Association for the History of Medicine and the 2010 Jerry Stannard Award.

My research is centered upon medical and scientific knowledge transfer and production. My interdisciplinary projects use theories and methods in the history of the book and the history of reading to elucidate practical knowledge and quotidian activities within the domestic sphere. I am currently working on two book-length projects. The first, Treasuries for Health: Making Recipe Knowledge in the Early Modern Household is the first major study of informal "science" and medicine in early modern English Households. The second, Reading Rivière in Early Modern England, uses the story of Lazare Rivière’s bestselling Praxis medica/The Practice of Physick to explore the production, transfer and codification of vernacular medical knowledge in early modern Europe. I am also interested in investigating women’s medical knowledge and practice and how this knowledge was generated, acquired and transmitted. Finally, I have particular interests in note-taking, paper technologies, and household archives of natural knowledge. With Alisha Rankin (Tufts University), I edited Secrets and Knowledge: Medicine, Science and Commerce 1500-1800 (Ashgate Publishing, 2011).

Selected publications

Leong, E. (in press). Printing vernacular medicine in early modern England: the case of Lazare Rivière’s 'The Practice of Physick’. In A. Kinzelbach, A. Mendelsohn, & R. Schilling (Eds.), The physician and the city in early modern Europe. Farnham, Surrey [u.a.]: Ashgate.


Leong, E. (2014). Herbals she peruseth: reading medicine in early modern England. Renaissance Studies, 28(4), 556-578. doi:10.1111/rest.12079.


Leong, E. (2013). Collecting knowledge for the family: recipes, gender and practical knowledge in the early modern english household. Centaurus, 55(2), 81-103. doi:10.1111/1600-0498.12019. Download


Leong, E., & Rankin, A. (Eds.). (2011). Secrets and knowledge in medicine and science, 1500- 1800. Farnham [u.a.]: Ashgate Publishing.


Leong, E. (2008). Making Medicines in the Early Modern Household. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 82(1), 145-168.


Leong, E., & Pennell, S. (2007). Recipe Collections and the Currency of Medical Knowledge in the Early Modern 'Medical Marketplace'. In M. S. Jenner (Ed.), Medicine and the Market in England and Its Colonies, c. 1450- c. 1850. (pp. 133-152). Basingstoke [u.a.]: Palgrave Macmillan.

October 2015
"Making and Knowing Reconstruction Workshop," Chemical Heritage Foundation, U.S.A.
"Reconstructing Household Recipes"
May 2015
"Sources for Global History of Science" workshop, Columbia University, U.S.A.
"How Do You Solve a Problem Like Wellcome MS 4759?"
March 2015
Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting, Berlin, Germany
"Annotating The Art of Distillation: ‘How Rebecca Tallamy Read Her John French'"
January 2015
Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft, Universität Bremen, Germany
"Brewing Ale in Early Modern England"
November 2014
SAW History of Science, History of Text seminar, Université Paris 7, CNRS, Laboratoire SPHERE, Paris.
"Creating Treasuries of Health: Knowledge Codification in the ‘Margins'"
November 2014
History of Science Society (HSS) Annual Meeting in Chicago, U.S.A.
"Homemade Trials: Recipes and ‘Experimentation' in the Early Modern Household"
April 2014
HSTM Colloquium, University of Minnesota U.S.A.
"'Tried and tested': Creating a Treasury for Health in Early Modern England"
Nov 2013 and Jan 2014
Physicians, Paper and Polis Workshop. MPIWG and Institute for the History of Medicine and Ethics, Charité, Berlin, Germany
Reading Rivière in Early Modern England
October 2013
University of Basel
"Tracing Recipe Networks in Early Modern England"
July 2013
Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
"Note-taking for Health: Medical Notebooks in the Early Modern Household"
May 2013
CRASSH, University of Cambridge
"Paper Slips, Notebooks and Health Management"