Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Swinburne University of Technology
Website URL
euthanasia, assisted dying, histories of dying and pain, medical history, palliative care, eugenics, R v. Adams
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Caitlin Mahar is an Australian historian based at Swinburne University of Technology. She completed a PhD in history at the University of Melbourne in 2016 and was awarded the Society for the Social History of Medicine Roy Porter Essay Prize, the Australian and New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine Ben Haneman Memorial Award and the University of Melbourne’s Dennis-Wettenhall Prize. Her research focuses on medical and cultural histories of dying and pain in Australia and Britain.

Her first book, The Good Death Through Time (Melbourne University Press, 2023), was shortlisted for Educational Publishing Australia’s EPAA Scholarly Book of the Year award. It charts the remarkable rise of the euthanasia movement in the context of a history of dying in the West – from the publication of the first proposal in England in 1870 to the passage of the world’s first euthanasia legislation in Australia’s Northern Territory in 1995, and beyond.

Tracing the evolution of the western concept of a ‘good death’ through medicine, religion, law and the cultural imagination it offers a novel account of the development of medical care of the terminally ill as well as euthanasia activism. Drawing on English and American as well as Australian material, along the way it offers new takes on euthanasia debates as well as controversial incidents such as the inter-war eugenics movement and the sensational 1950s’ murder trial of English GP John Bodkin Adams.

Recent Publications


The Good Death Through Time (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2023).


2023-06-07: How the human search for a “good death” has changed through time – ABC Religion & Ethics 

2023-02-11: Pious, prolonged or painless: the remarkable reconception of what it means to die well – The Guardian

2017-09-27: When a ‘good death’ was often painful: euthanasia through the ages – The Conversation

Journal Articles/Reviews

Mahar, Caitlin, ‘Living in Death’s Shadow: Family Experiences of Terminal Care and Irreplaceable Loss’ (Book Review), Social History of Medicine, 31, no. 2 (2017): 439-440.

Mahar, Caitlin. “Easing the Passing: R v. Adams and Terminal Care in Postwar Britain.” Social History of Medicine 28, no. 1 (2015): 155-171.

Media Coverage
Caitlin Mahar has appeared on ABC TV (Australia) on the Drum, been a guest on ABC Radio National on Late Night Live and Soul Search and written for the Guardian, the Conversation and ABC Religion & Ethics.
Country Focus
Australia, United Kingdom
Expertise by Geography
Australia, United Kingdom, United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Disability, Law, Medicine, Public History, Religion