‘Bit­ten by Witch Fever’ by Lucinda Hawk­sley (Thames & Hud­son, £28)

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Its ti­tle taken from a quote by Wil­liam Mor­ris about the hys­te­ria sur­round­ing the dis­cov­ery of ar­senic tox­i­c­ity in the 19th cen­tury, this book is a com­pelling and at times ma­cabre story of how a lethal poi­son came to be in­ti­mately linked with home dec­o­ra­tion. Richly il­lus­trated with im­ages of wallpapers that were dyed vivid green us­ing ar­senicderived pig­ments, it takes in sto­ries of mur­der and ac­ci­den­tal death as well as the en­dur­ing mys­tery of why Mor­ris – a pas­sion­ate so­cial­ist – was un­moved by the plight of work­ers man­u­fac­tur­ing deadly wall­cov­er­ings. You’ll see green in a whole new light.


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