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Today marks the death of Sir William Read who died in Originally, he was either a tailor or a cobbler and he was barely literate. He somehow became a mountebank and travelled the country peddling his wares.

The celestial bed

His specialities were diseases of the eye and the removal of tumours. In fact, you can still buy styptic pencils today for the same purpose, so perhaps it worked. Anyway, he managed to rise to the position of eye doctor to Queen Anne and her successor George I. When he was knighted, Beau Nash, a dandy from Bath turned down the offer of a knighthood because he did not want to be associated with Read.

The Celestial Bed Audiobook | Irving Wallace |

But it does give me the opportunity to tell you about a couple of Robert Chambers mountebanks. Gustavus Katterfelto was a Prussian conjurer, scientific lecturer and mountebank who travelled about England and Scotland towards the end of the eighteenth century. He found fame in London during a flu epidemic in Part of his performance included a solar microscope, which he used to project images of micro organisms found in water, on bread or in cheese. He claimed these were the insects which caused the influenza.

  • James Graham (sexologist).
  • SONET/SDH Demystified.

Unfortunately, people started to think he might be releasing the insects and actually causing the disease. He quickly took out an advertisement announcing that all his insects had died in a rain storm. Then, three days later, he took out another announcing that he himself had caught influenza.


Not long after that he claimed to have found the cure, which he would sell at five shillings a bottle. Among his other claims were, that he had discovered the secret of perpetual motion and that he had launched the first hot air balloon fifteen years before the Montgolfier brothers. Katterfelto lectured on electricity and magnetism and performed with a black cat, who he claimed was evil. When the cat later gave birth kittens, its offspring were very much in demand. Marie Antoinette may have had one of them. The kittens that he kept would sometimes magically convey themselves into the pockets of his audience members, but they might also find that they had been relieved of their money and watches at the same time.

After he had outworn his welcome in the capital, he took off on a less successful tour of the provinces. I was delighted to find out that he performed, and was well received in Whitby, which, you might have gathered, is my home town. One of his favourite tricks there was to put his daughter in a massive steel helmet and lift her to the ceiling with a giant magnet. The other mountebank I want to tell you about today is James Graham, who operated in London at the same time as Katterfelto. Graham studied medicine in Edinburgh, but never took a degree.

He travelled to America where he learned about the principles of electricity from a friend of Benjamin Franklin. He left before the revolution and travelled Holland, Germany and Russia before setting up in Bath in There, he offered electrical and magnetic cures with a heavy emphasis on the electrical. You could sit on an electric throne, put on an electric crown or soak yourself in an electric bath. This held his most impressive piece of equipment.


The bed was designed to help couples who were having difficulty conceiving a child. It was twelve feet by nine and was surmounted by a dome filled with fresh flowers, automata, a pair of live turtle doves and also a large mirror. Hidden categories: All stub articles.

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  8. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Languages Add links. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. First edition. Delacorte Press , This article about a sexuality -related book is a stub. James Graham was a student of the University of Edinburgh and a student of electricity.

    Limelight Celestial Bed Frame - Bedworld

    One of his biggest, grandest therapies was the Celestial Bed, a massive bed covered with mirrors and lights, which would supposedly cure impotence and infertility. There are a lot of individual words associated with James Graham. Born in , Graham was a highly prolific author and lecturer who invented one of the most audacious pieces of fertility equipment in the history of London: the Celestial Bed. The bed, a massive 3. Specifics of the therapy that went on in the Celestial Bed are lacking, but we do have some impressive descriptions of the bed itself.