The 1636 outbreak of plague was far from the worst in the history of England. But for Newcastle, the north-eastern port city, it was devastating. In less than a year, it wiped out almost half of the entire population of the city. In the first episode of Experiencing Epidemics podcast, Ian Hathaway is hosting Gašper Jakovac to discuss an anonymous plague poem written in the wake of the 1636 epidemic. What might poetry tell us about the people’s experiences of the plague and the prevailing attitudes towards infectious disease in early modern England? Get ready for thundering verse and God’s unquenchable wrath!


Gašper Jakovac is a cultural and literary historian of the early modern period. His research focuses on drama, performance, popular culture, and religious politics in Protestant England. He is on the editorial team of Experiencing Epidemics.

Further reading

‘In the great plague time in Newcastle’, Durham Cathedral Library, Hunter MS 27/4, f. 186v.
Jenison, Robert, Newcastles call, to her neighbour and sister townes and cities throughout the land, to take warning by her sins and sorrowes (London, 1637).
Jones, Colin, ‘Plague and Its Metaphors in Early Modern France’, Representations 53 (1996): 97–127.
Quarles, Francis, Divine fancies: digested into epigrammes, meditations and observations (London, 1632).
Slack, Paul, The Impact of Plague in Tudor and Stuart England (London: Routledge & Paul, 1985).
Sullivan, Erin, ‘Physical and Spiritual Illness: Narrative Appropriations of the Bills of Mortality’, in Representing the Plague in Early Modern England, ed. by Rebecca Totaro and Ernest B. Gilman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011), 76–94.
Wrightson, Keith, Ralph Tailor’s Summer: a Scrivener, His City, and the Plague (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).

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