History Writing

Migraine: A History

foxhall_cover_finalKatherine Foxhall, Migraine: A History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019). ISBN 9781421429489

Migraine reveals a two thousand year history of the efforts that ordinary people and medical professionals have made to describe, explain and – most importantly – treat migraine since the Middle Ages. It takes the reader from classical humoral explanations, through medieval bloodletting, herbal remedies and Victorian practices of therapeutic experimentation to our own neurological knowledge and modern medicines.

Migraine is available in paperback, as an audiobook, and to download for free as an open access pdf.

In the UK and Europe distribution is by Wiley, and Migraine is also available from independent and online booksellers.

For publicity and media/review copy enquiries:

A Q&A about the book for media representatives is available here.



“erudite and vivid…A lively, scholarly book about migraine, Foxhall’s history is also a treatise on the human condition”.
– Sibbie O’Sullivan for Washington Post, 10 June 2019.

“The most comprehensive, well-researched, and in-depth history of migraine in existence”
– Joanna Kempner, author of
Not Tonight: Migraine and the Politics of Gender and Health

“A fascinating insight into how societal changes have affected the perception of this condition and the impact that has had on management.”
– Anne MacGregor, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, author of
Understanding Migraine and Other Headaches.

“In her meticulously researched book, Katherine Foxhall offers a sensitive and humane account of a common condition.”
– Ludmilla Jordanova, Durham University, author of
The Look of the Past: Visual And Material Evidence In Historical Practice.


Online Excerpts from Migraine: A History

Elizabeth, the Girl Who Dropped Trays, 1895, CBS News, February 2020.

How a Nurse With a Hole in Her Skull Changed The Medical History of Migraines“, Time Magazine, June 2019.

How to Make Worm Paste: Treating Migraine in the 1600sMigraine Again (15 April 2019).

Migraine in Medieval Thought and Practice: An Imbalance of the HumoursMigraine Again (3 April 2019).


Features & Short Articles

Misery in the HeadHistory Today,  January 2020.

Migraine: A History. JHU Press Blog (12 June 2019).

A History of Migraine: Gender Ratio. Neurology Times (28 May 2019)

Migraine Myth: Drilling holes in the skull was never a migraine cure – but it was long thought to be.  The Independent (13 March 2018) / The Conversation (6 March 2018).

Following Valerian: New Name, Old Idea. The Recipes Project. (30 January 2018).


Media & Interviews

Jane Pauley, Taking Migraine Seriously. CBS Sunday Morning (16 February 2020).

Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan. Radio New Zealand (29 July 2019).

AL Kennedy’s Migraine. Cast Iron Media for BBC Radio 4 (3 April 2017).


Academic Research Articles & Chapters

Katherine Foxhall (2014) Making Modern Migraine Medieval: Men of Science, Hildegard of Bingen and the Life of a Retrospective Diagnosis. Medical History: devoted to the history and bibliography of medicine and the related sciences, 58 (3), pp. 354-374. Open Access.

Katherine Foxhall (2016) Digital Narratives: Four Hits in the History of Migraine. In M. Jackson (ed.) The Routledge History of Disease. Routledge, pp. 512-528.


Other Historical Writing

foxhall_cover_finalKatherine Foxhall, Health, Medicine and the Sea: Australian Voyages c.1815-1860 (Manchester University Press, 2011). ISBN  9780719085710

Health, Medicine and the Sea gives a rich account of the creation of medical knowledge in an ever-changing maritime environment. It follows the journeys of over 1.5 million convicts and free migrants as they set sail from the British Isles to begin new lives in the Australian colonies. From consumptive convicts who pleaded that going to sea was their only chance of recovery, to sailors who performed macabre ‘medical’ rituals during equatorial ceremonies off the African coast, to surgeons’ formal experiments with scurvy in the southern hemisphere oceans, to furious letters from quarantined emigrants just a few miles from Sydney, this wide-ranging and evocative study brings the experience and meaning of voyaging to life.


Academic Research Articles & Chapters

K. Foxhall (2017) White Men in Quarantine: Disease, Race, Commerce and Mobility in the Pacific, 1872. Australian Historical Studies 48 (2). Open Access. DOI: 10.1080/1031461X.2017.1293704

K. Foxhall (2016) Digital Narratives: Four Hits in the History of Migraine. In M. Jackson (ed.) The Routledge History of Disease. Routledge, pp. 512-528.

K. Foxhall (2014) Making Modern Migraine Medieval: Men of Science, Hildegard of Bingen and the Life of a Retrospective Diagnosis. Medical History: devoted to the history and bibliography of medicine and the related sciences, 58 (3), pp. 354-374. Open Access. DOI:10.1017/mdh.2014.28

K. Foxhall (2013) The Colonial Travels and Travails of Smallpox Vaccine c. 1820-1840. In: H. Marland and C. Cox (eds.) Migration, Health and Ethnicity in the Modern World. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 83-103.

K. Foxhall (2011) Fever, Immigration and Quarantine in New South Wales, 1837-1840. Social History of Medicine, 24 (3), pp. 624-642. Open Access. DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkq109

K. Foxhall (2011) From Convicts to Colonists: The Health of Prisoners & the Voyage to Australia, 1823–53. Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History, 39(1), pp. 1-19. Open Access. DOI 10.1080/03086534.2011.54379