Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Northumbria University
Website URL
medicine, literature, eighteenth century, women's history, reproduction, childbirth, mental health, book history, reading practices, sleep, stress
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Hi, I’m Ashleigh.

My work focuses on medical development of the long eighteenth century, specifically how medical discourse and development was created by all levels of society through writing. I have specialist interests in the areas of reproductive and childbirth medicine, women’s involvement in medicine, mental health, the history of sleep, as well as  interactions between literature, reading practices, and human health. I am especially passionate about employing underutilised historical narratives to influence medical and educational development today.

I am Research Fellow on the current Leverhulme-funded major project ‘Writing Doctors: Representation and Medical Personality ca.1660-1832’,, exploring the scientific, clinical and cultural consequences of medical publishing shifting from Latin to English during the long eighteenth century. I am also Co-Investigator on the Wellcome-funded project, ‘Thinking Through Things’ (2020-21), which explores how a new sub-discipline of medical humanities  can be  developed based on visual, material, and object-based methodologies.

I have published on a variety of authors including poets Anne Finch and Jane Cave Winscom, novelist Laurence Sterne, midwife-author Martha Mears and physician Dr William Cullen. I am interested in print culture and the involvement of women in writing, publishing and bookselling during the eighteenth century, as well as the proliferation of medical print in the long eighteenth century.

As well as publishing scholarly material, I am keen to open up research to the public and engage with cultural heritage and third sector organisations to ensure that my work benefits society more broadly. I have collaborated with a variety of organisations  including the Royal Society of Medicine, Fairfax House and Shandy Hall to bring medical humanities to the public. Outputs with these collaborating organisations have included exhibitions (‘The Good Humour Club, Shandy Hall and ‘Shandy’s Physicians’, RSM), heritage and museum training and public lectures. I have also worked with the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, and Seaton Delaval Hall (National Trust) as part of ‘Being Human’, the National Festival of the Humanities on performances and integrative learning.

I am a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) Women’s Voices Involvement Panel, and am also currently working with midwifery practitioners and scholars at the university to consider how the past can shape career opportunities for midwives today.

Recent Publications

Now open access! – Clark Lawlor and Ashleigh Blackwood, ‘Sleep and stress management in Enlightenment literature and poetry’ Interface Focus, special issue on ‘Sleep and stress, past and present‘ organised by Catherine Charlwood, Russell G. Foster and Sally Shuttleworth, Vol. 10 issue 3,

Review: ‘The Imposteress Rabbit Breeder: Mary Toft and Eighteenth-Century England by Karen Harvey’ (Oxford University Press, 2020), De Partu: History of Midwifery and Childbirth Research Group, 2020

Review: ‘Gender, Pregnancy and Power in Eighteenth-Century Literature by Jenifer Buckley’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), British Society for Literature and Science, 2019

Review: ‘Itch, Clap, Pox: Venereal Disease in the Eighteenth-Century Imagination’ (Yale University Press, 2019) The Shandean, 2019

‘Toxic Texts and Reading Remedies: Literary Medicine in Eighteenth-Century Print Cultures’ , Literature and Medicine, Volume 34, No. 2, Fall 2016, pp.278-98

‘Sterne’s “Little Gentleman”: Tristram Shandy and the Male Participant in Childbirth’, Sterne, Tristram, Yorick. ed. Melvyn New, Peter de Voogd, Judith Hawley (Delaware University Press, 2015)

‘I wish the child, I call my own’: [Pro]Creative Experience in Eighteenth-Century Poetry, ‘Order in Variety’: Voice and Context in Eighteenth-Century Verse, ed. Joanna Fowler and Allan Ingram (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)





Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
British Isles, England
Expertise by Chronology
17th century, 18th century, 19th century
Expertise by Topic
Book History, Disability, Family, Gender, Literary History, Medicine, Science, Women