The Prime Minister Hospitalised: Lloyd George's Influenza

In September 1918 David Lloyd George, the charismatic wartime Prime Minister, visited the city of Manchester, attended a vast public gathering and then collapsed. He spent the next week and a half confined to the Manchester Town Hall in a hastily assembled private hospital ward. He needed assistance breathing. His valet said it was touch and go as to whether he would survive. He did pull through but a vast number of his fellow Brits did not. The country was in the grip of an influenza pandemic, known as Spanish Influenza. It is interesting that Lloyd George was in Manchester because it was under the care of one of the most remarkable public health officials in British history, James Niven. His rapid response the pandemic, his insistence on a public information campaign and closing of mass gatherings meant that Manchester suffered fewer deaths than other big cities like London. 


In this podcast I talk to Mark Honigsbaum who has written extensively about the Influenza and Niven. We talked about sick Prime Ministers and social distancing. Please check out Mark's podcast Going Viral for more on this and the historical resonances of the present crisis. 


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