Advent Calendar: 23 December – Mistletoe

Engraved illustration of mistletoe from Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal, published in 1739 (sf QK99.B5 Volume 1). Mistletoe has long been associated with Christmas – used in wreath decorations under which people are encouraged to kiss.

Born in Aberdeen in about 1700, Elizabeth Blackwell produced the Herbal as a means of raising the funds to secure the release of her husband Alexander Blackwell from debtor’s prison. Elizabeth drew the illustrations herself and sought the help of her imprisoned husband, a former physician, for the accompanying text. Between 1737 to 1739 Elizabeth issued four plates a week and the complete work was published in two volumes.

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