Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Andrew Ure - And a Giveaway

With Nancy J. Farrier

The month of October is often focused on the odd and disturbing. I happened to stumble across the historical account of Andrew Ure and thought the story would fit well within the oddities of the month.


Welcome Library, London    
Andrew Ure, born in Glasgow, Scotland, achieved great success in many areas. He became a physician and served as an army surgeon, but his great love was chemistry and physics. He served on the Faculty Board at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow and was well loved for his interesting lectures. He spoke often on chemistry and mechanics. He also had a love of geology and was considered an expert from the number of texts he devoured and the information he absorbed.



Louis Figueir (author) 
One of Ure’s fascinations had to do with the reanimation of the body after death. He began some experiments which he later incorporated in his lectures. In 1818, he lectured on the galvanic experiments he’d been conducting. He brought in the body of a murderer and thief, Matthew Clydesdale to demonstrate his findings. Clydsedale had been executed by hanging and left hanging for an hour. Ure wanted to demonstrate the by stimulating certain nerves with voltage he could bring the person back to life.

These experiments were allowed at that time on the bodies of condemned murderers who had been put to death. The thought of the day was that these men were further tormented for their crimes by being experimented on and that would be all right.

Early depiction of Frankenstein
When Ure sent voltage through the body, Clydesdale’s muscles responded with shuddering which looked to the audience as if he were shivering from the cold. Ure made the body do different movements by touching nerves in other areas. When he touched the hip, one of his assistant was nearly thrown to the floor by the violence of the muscular reaction. He was also able to manipulate the facial expressions, giving the impression Clydesdale was experiencing emotion. Many of the onlookers had to leave the room they were so horrified.

Mary Shelley
By Richard Rothwell 
One of the interesting side notes I read while studying Ure, was that Mary Shelley heard of his experiments and was fascinated by the thought of reanimating the dead. This sparked her writing of Frankenstein, which released in 1818 about the same time Ure was doing the lecture on Clydesdale. Shelley’s book and Ure’s experiments caused quite a stir in that era. The original Frankenstein made no mention of using electricity to reanimate the body, but in her rewrite in 1831, Shelley added that part to the text.

Frankenstein frontispiece
By Theodore Von Holst 
The origin of life and scientific experiments have long been interesting to the public even to the point of excusing tests on the living in the name of science. Ure did not use the living in his demonstrations, only the dead, but some of his tests were horrific. He also inspired other scientists to experiment on animals and humans. Shelley’s depiction of Frankenstein brings out that nature of scientific curiosity and vividly describes human nature in the events that occur in her book.

Have you ever read Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein? What are your thoughts on experimenting with the dead? ((I realize that some people sign over their bodies before they die, but am referring to those who haven’t.) Have you ever heard of Andrew Ure?


I am doing a giveaway of my book, Bandolero. To be entered, please leave a comment and your email on this blog before midnight. If you already have Bandolero, you may have another of my books.



Yoana Armenta’s reckless behavior results in her being captured by bandoleros, Yoana fears her impulsive nature has caused irreparable disaster. Amado Castro gave a death bed promise that he intends to keep – at all costs - even if he must break a childhood vow. When his choice endangers Yoana’s life, he struggles with the decision to honor his word, or to protect Yoana, whom he has come to care for more than he could have imagined. Now as the bandoleros threaten to sell Yoana and her tía to a fate worse than death, and the rancheros want to hang Amado, they must make choices. Will they trust God, or will they do what seems right to them?



Nancy J Farrier is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children and two grandsons. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: nancyjfarrier.com.

15 comments:

  1. I find this a bit creepy! I know the practice seemed to be done using convicted criminals, but nowadays it would be considered a violation of some kind of civil right, I'm sure! Thanks for the giveaway! Happy October to you!

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    1. Happy October, Connie. Thank you for stopping by.

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  2. I had never heard of Andrew Ure and his experimentations with dead bodies. I would not of wanted to be present to observe them and the reactions. I haven't read Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein.
    Bandolero sounds like a book I'll enjoy reading with the hero and heroine deciding on their faith and trust in God. Thank you for the giveaway and interesting post.
    marilynridgway78 [at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn. I agree the experiments were strange. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. What an interesting post! I have not heard of Andrew Ure or his experiments. It sounds like his life was anything but dull. mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Well said, Melanie. It doesn't sound dull at all. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. I've never read Frankenstein. I can't stomach creepy, scary, or horror of any kind. lol But I have read (definitely not in detail) about the practice of doctors learning about medicine using cadavers. I know a lot of what doctors know had to start somewhere, but it is kinda creepy for those of us who are squeamish! lol

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    1. Yes, Pam, doctors today are much more compassionate in how they deal with learning from dead bodies.

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  5. Creepy, but interesting. I can imagine the stir Andrew Ure created with his odd experiments.

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    1. Thanks, Vickie. I'm sure he did create a stir.

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  6. I've never read Frankenstein or heard of Andrew Ure. I'm afraid my taste in literature lies elsewhere.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Linda.

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  7. I already have your book which is fabulous! But had to stop by to read this post. Yikes! Andres Ure is fascinating, but still yikes! My sister in law is a pathologist, and I've heard some of her stories. I have to admit that I've never been inspired to write about any of it, but I'm glad other people are less squeamish. One of my favorite Halloween movies is Young Frankenstein with Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman, and without Mary Shelley we wouldn't have that. Great post Nancy!

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    1. Tari, Young Frankenstein was so funny. I loved Gene Wilder and his humor in that movie. Thanks for commenting.

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  8. I've never heard of Andrew Ure. In grad school, we touched on Mary Shelley for a moment as the first writer to begin writing in the horror genre, but with all of the reading I've done for school and for fun I haven't quite gotten around to reading Frankenstein yet. I think I might have to fix that this month for Halloween! 😁 Thanks for the interesting article, Nancy!

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