Malvern’s Bizarre Water-Cure Clinic
David Morrell’s Ruler of the Night is set on the harrowing, fogbound streets of 1855 London. A gripping Victorian mystery/thriller, its vivid historical details come from years of research. Here is one of the photo essays that David prepared about the novel’s fascinating locations.
“In Ruler of the Night, Thomas De Quincey becomes subjected to the extremes of the wet-sheet method as a way of curing him of his opium addiction.”
The hydropathy craze of the mid-1800s began when Vincenz Priessnitz, the son of a farmer, with no medical training whatsoever, established a water-cure clinic in the town of Gräfenberg, located on an Austrian mountain that’s now part of the Czech Republic. The clinic became so popular that British doctors replicated it in the area of Malvern Hills in the West Midlands of England.
Included in T.S. Oliver’s Taking the Cure
The springs at Malvern were renowned for their purity, but the quality of the drinking water was only part of the reason that well-to-do patients paid large sums to seek treatment there for arthritis, gout, kidney ailments, and nervous disorders. Although there wasn’t any scientific basis for using water as a physical therapy, guests became convinced that it helped them.
The wet-sheet treatment, the upper and lower douches, and the plunge bath were only some of the therapies that doctors at Malvern’s hydropathy clinic recommended. In Ruler of the Night, Thomas De Quincey becomes subjected to the extremes of the wet-sheet method as a way of curing him of his opium addiction. Meanwhile, a killer stalks one of the clinic’s guests.