Science in Literature: The Laboratory

In honour of British Science Week, we’ve been looking at where science and literature collide. While the two may seem poles apart, literature is in fact saturated with experiments, dissections, potions and ‘hocus pocus.’

Our first example is Robert Browning’s 1844 dramatic monologue ‘The Laboratory’, in which a woman addresses an apothecary as he mixes the poison with which she will kill her romantic rivals in the royal court. The speaker is based on Madame de Brinvilliers, a 17th Century French noblewoman, who poisoned many of her male relations. Incidentally, after being arrested, she claimed, ‘Half the people of quality are involved in this sort of thing, and I could ruin them if I were to talk.’

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