Pandemics of Past and Present 
with Vanessa Harding and Christopher Dye

Saturday 17th October at 3:30 pm

Overcrowded, filthy and awash with sewage: it’s hardly surprising that 17th century London fostered one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. In 1665 bubonic plague swept through the city claiming the lives of over 100,000 people. The corpses piled up so quickly, they had to be disposed of in emergency mass graves in Westminster, Knightsbridge, Shoreditch and Soho.

Tickets £12 including a Hendrick's Gin Cocktail. 

In her talk, VANESSA HARDING will review our changing knowledge of the Great Plague. What caused it? What was its social impact? And what lessons does it have for modern epidemiologists?

Pandemics have continued to make headlines over recent years with scares over SARS, H5N1 and Swine Flu. In 2014 it was Ebola which multiplied rapidly, spreading from West Africa to Dallas, New York, London and Madrid, causing fear of a global pandemic. Yet none of these diseases have taken hold in the developed world. In his talk, CHRIS DYE, the director of strategy in the World Heath Organisation will explain why Ebola has been a disaster for West Africa but not elsewhere, and what diseases we should really fear as potential causes of mass fatalities in the 21st century.


Vanessa Harding is Professor of London History at Birkbeck, University of London. She published a major comparative study of burial in Paris and London 1500-1670, in 2002. She writes and teaches on aspects of family, housing, health and disease, and death in early modern London.

Chris Dye is Director of Strategy in the Director General’s Office at the World Health Organisation, Geneva, where he investigates the spread and control of tuberculosis, Ebola and other contemporary plagues. He is a Visiting Professor of Zoology at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of The Royal Society and of The Academy of Medical Sciences.