A BBC Culture Design Book of the Year
Bitten by Witch Fever traces the arresting story of the manufacture, uses and effects of arsenic in the 19th-century home, in particular, the pigments ingrained in popular wallpapers. Lucinda Hawksley reveals how pigments, such as Scheele’s green and Schweinfurt green, were created using arsenic to produce more vibrant and durable dyes, which became instant favourites with wallpaper designers and householders alike. Drawing on contemporary case studies and reports in the press, she highlights how, by the middle of the century, manufacturers were producing millions of rolls of arsenical wallpaper, with devastating consequences for those working in their factories and for those living in rooms decorated with the deadly designs.
The wallpaper sections display dazzling long-lost work from the great designers and printers of the age, including Christopher Dresser, Corbière, Son & Brindle, Charles Knowles & Co., and Morris & Co. – whose owner was famously dismissive of the fatal effects of living with arsenic-laden wallpapers.