Magic and Medicine in Harry Potter

Do Mandrakes Really Scream? This was a question that the National Library of Medicine posed in their magnificent "Magic and Medicine in Harry Potter" exhibit awhile back. The exhibition takes a close look at the facts, fictions, and legends in references to the healing arts in Harry Potter. Very nicely done.

By the way, if you haven't yet explored the NLM's online exhibitions, you really should! Among the many highlights, is the "Dream Anatomies" exhibition. A visually stunning and informative look into early anatomy and dissection.

Another NLM favorite for us here at
Wonders & Marvels is the "Turning the Pages" project. Where else can you flip through a copy of Conrad Gesner's Historiae animalium while stretched out on your couch, laptop in hand? The image quality is extraordinary.

And to answer the question about whether mandrakes scream...first-hand experience suggests they don't. We tried it out at a local nature preserve, where mandrakes grow freely in the lush hills of the south. Darn!

Image: Gerarde, "Mandrake Root" (1636) from another impressive online collection of images, hosted by the University of Colorado: The World of Gloriana: Books and Manuscripts from the Age of Elizabeth I.

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  1. You should check out the updated exhibition! It's traveling to libraries over the next several years and has many more details and resources, including lesson plans and a higher education resource!

  2. I like the magic and Medicine in Harry Potter a lot. The magic looks real without a doubt. I am a huge fan of it.

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