Credit: ©The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.15590

    Elizabeth Travers, with swollen breasts

    19 July 1669
    Unknown, Artist
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    Manuscript page number
    height (page): 197mm
    width (page): 172mm
    Content object
    Drawing of Elizabeth Travers (23 or 24 years old) at Plymouth who developed excessively swollen breasts overnight. This drawing, together with the tape that measured her swollen breasts, accompanied the letter by the physician William Durston of Plymouth. Durston was created MD at Oxford in August 1660.
    Object history
    22 July 1669, ‘Dr. Timothy Clark communicated a letter written to the president by William Durston, M.D. from Plymouth July 18, 1669, containing an account of a maid’s breasts excessively swelled in one night. It was ordered, that the writer of this letter should be desired by Dr. Clarke and the secretary to communicate what farther observations he should make about the state of this woman’s health, and the continuance of that tumour, together with the applications used for the abatement of it’ (Birch 2:394).

    18 November 1669, ‘Mr Oldenburg read two letters written to him, the one from Dr. Duston, dated at Plymouth, November 2, 1669, concerning the death of the big-breasted woman, and what was observed of her swelled breasts after death’ (Birch 2:402).

    Oldenburg wrote to William Durston on 24 July 1669 (see The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, ed. by A. Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall, 13 vols (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press; London: Taylor and Francis, 1965-86), VI (1969), 154 (no. 1255)), to which Durston replied on 17 September 1669 (ibid., VI, 246-47 (no. 1287)) and on 2 November 1669 (ibid., VI, 307-08 (no. 1316)).

    Printed in W. Durston, 'A very sudden and excessive swelling of a woman's breast', Phil. Trans. vol. 4, no. 52 (1669), pp. 1047-50.
    Related fellows
    William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker of Lyons (1620 - 1684, British) , Mathematician
    Henry Oldenburg (1612 - 1677, German) , Scientific correspondent
    Associated place
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