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Leah Astbury

Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Leah Astbury is a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and a Junior Research Fellow at Darwin College. She joined the Department in 2012 as a PhD student as part of the Generation to Reproduction project. Her thesis, 'Breeding Women and Lusty Infants in Seventeenth-Century England', was awarded in 2016 and examined the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and afterbirth care. Since, she has held fellowships from the Society for Renaissance Studies, The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) and was the 2017–18 Molina Fellowship in History of Medicine and the Allied Sciences at the Huntington Library, San Marino.

Her current project examines marriage, health and compatibility in early modern England.

Leah is Director of Studies for HPS at Pembroke College in Easter Term 2020 and Library Fellow at Darwin College.

Leah is interested in supervising Part II, Part III and MPhil essays and dissertations on early modern medicine, gender, childbirth, family and health.

Twitter: @leahastbury

Research interests

Early modern medicine; history of reproduction; history of the body; domestic medicine; the family; gender; animal history; public engagement


With Elaine Leong, 'Medical Knowledge and Practice' in Amanda Capern (ed.), The Routledge History of Women in Early Modern Europe (Routledge, 2019), pp. 181–198.

'Being Well, Looking Ill: Childbirth and the Return to Health in Seventeenth-Century England', Social History of Medicine 30/1 (2017), 500–519.

'"Ordering the Infant": Caring for Newborns in Seventeenth-Century England', in Sandra Cavallo and Tessa Storey (eds.), Conserving Health in Early Modern Culture. Bodies and Environments in Italy and England (Manchester University Press, 2017).

Online and public engagement publications

'Bad Marriages', 'Can beget no child' and 'Childbirth and after', Lauren Kassell, Michael Hawkins, John Young, Joanne Edge, Janet Yvonne Martin-Portugues, and Natalie Kaoukji (eds.), The Casebooks of Simon Forman and Richard Napier, 1596-1634: A Digital Edition.

'Fertility in the early modern household', The Recipes Project, 2019.

'Should women breastfeed each other's babies?', Huffington Post UK, 2016.

'Bawling babies and their baths in early modern England', Wellcome Library Blog, 2016.

'Buttering your baby: 17th century child-rearing tips revealed', featured in BBC History Magazine, June 2016.

'Should we be having babies at 20? Lessons from the past', Huffington Post UK, 2015.

'Much ado about babies', University of Cambridge Research, July 2013.