Helen Bynum

I started out as an academic lecturing in medical history at the University of Liverpool after reading human sciences and the history of medicine (MSc & PhD) at University College London and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. All served my desire to make connections across time and ways of thinking about our place in the world. 

Now I am a freelance writer, speaker, editor and reviewer living in the Suffolk countryside and London.

Long hours spent looking out of the window at the changing agricultural landscape of fields and woods, and much grubbing in the soil of our sometimes too-large, sometimes too-small garden inspired serious thinking about plants and human history. Remarkable Plants was the first result. Botanical sketchbooks (Thames & Hudson, Kew Publishing; Princeton Architectural Press).

Before that my interest in the history of tropical medicine and health took me to Liverpool to write about the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine from colonial tool to agent of international development, Tropical Medicine in the 20th Century. A fascination with the problems caused by trying to deal with diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis led to Spitting Blood: a history of tuberculosis which explores how we have managed and mismanaged this great killer and why it still remains a threat. 

I review for Wall Street Journal Science, Times Literary Supplement, THE, Lancet and Medical History. 


Recent Work


Backlist favourites:

  • The Dictionary of Medical Biography (edited with William Bynum)

  • Tropical Medicine in the 20th Century: A history of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (as Helen Power)

  • Success in Africa: The History of the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa 1974-2002 (as Helen Power)

  • Body & City: A History of Public Health (as Helen Power co-edited with Sally Sheard)