Scholarly biography and interests

Dr Deborah Madden is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has published the monographs The Paddington Prophet: Richard Brothers's Journey to Jerusalem and A Cheap, Safe and Natural Medicine’: Religion, Medicine and Culture in John Wesley’s Primitive Physic, along with journal articles on religion, medicine and culture in the eighteenth century.

Based at the University of Brighton in Hastings, she has responsibility for coordinating the teaching and learning for the common modules on the joint honours programme, as well as teaching social history. 

Dr Madden is also a Visiting Research Fellow in the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of Sussex. In this role she has completed work for the 'Dissenting Academies Project', which forms part of a multi-authored volume forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

Prior to this, Dr Madden worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the 'Prophecy Project' in the Theology Faculty at the University of Oxford following her AHRB funded DPhil in Modern History at Lincoln College, Oxford.

Dr Madden has written several articles on religion, medicine and culture in the eighteenth century, as well as a monograph examining John Wesley's medical activity, which was published by Rodopi Press in 2007. She has also edited and contributed to a collection of scholarly essays on Wesley's interest in the medical sciences, published by Epworth Press in 2008. Her book about the millenarian, self-styled prophet, Richard Brothers (1757-1824) was published with Manchester University Press in 2010. Dr Madden has explicated the intellectual and cultural history of Christian Israelites in Britain, Australia and the United States. This work is part of a collaborative volume associated with the 'Prophecy Project' at the University of Oxford. The volume, which is under contract with I.B. Tauris, will be published in 2014. Work here reveals a fascinating history of millennialist belief, as well as the rich tapestry of transatlantic missionary networks during Britain’s age of Empire and America’s expansionist era.

Dr Madden’s research includes work for the 'Dissenting Academies Project', directed by Isabel Rivers, Richard Whatmore and David Wykes. The research output for this project is a multi-authored volume forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, A History of the Dissenting Academies in the British Isles, 1660-1860. Madden's chapters to this volume track the development of the Dissenting Academies and missionary work in North America, Africa and Asia for the period under consideration.

Other forthcoming work includes a chapter on Wesley’s medical practice to a volume in honour of Henry D. Rack, edited by Robert Webster.  The volume is under contract and forthcoming with WIPF and Stock Publishers in 2014. Madden will also be contributing a chapter on ‘Education and Manners’ as part of the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Intellectual History, Richard Whatmore and Brian Young (eds), which is under contract and forthcoming in 2014. This chapter will provide comparative models of education and manners offered during the European Enlightenment period.

Research is now underway for a third book project. Victorian Cultures of Life Writing is a volume that will encourages critical reflection on issues surrounding the use of personal testimonies, life writings, autobiographies and biographies as historical sources.  It evaluates the methodological difficulties involved with the term ‘life writings’ itself.  Specific authors and texts are examined in their intellectual, cultural and social context, though organised around a number of key themes (religion, science, medicine, colonisation, race, class and gender).

Research activity

Repository holdings

Number of items: 7.

Madden, Deborah (2016) Medicine on demand: John Wesley's enlightened treatment of the sick In: Webster, Robert, ed. Perfecting perfection: essays in honour of Henry D. Rack. James Clarke & Co Ltd, Cambridge, UK, pp. 130-146. ISBN 9780227175880

Madden, Deborah (2016) Prophecy in the age of revolution In: Crome, Andrew, ed. Prophecy and eschatology in the transatlantic world, 1550−1800. Palgrave, London, pp. 259-281. ISBN 9781137520548

Madden, Deborah (2015) Education and manners In: Whatmore, Richard and Young, Brian, eds. A companion to intellectual history. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK, pp. 262-275. ISBN 9781118294802

Madden, Deborah (2010) The Paddington Prophet: Richard Brothers's journey to Jerusalem Manchester University Press, Manchester. ISBN 9780719082382

Madden, Deborah (2009) Wesley as adviser on health and healing In: Maddox, Randy L. and Vickers, Jason E., eds. The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 176-189. ISBN 9780521886536

Madden, Deborah (2008) Inward and Outward Health: John Wesley's Holistic Concept of Medical Science, the Environment and Holy Living Epworth Press, London. ISBN 9780716206491

Madden, Deborah (2008) The religious politics of prophecy: Or, Richard Brothers's Revealed Knowledge confuted History of European Ideas, 34 (3). pp. 270-284. ISSN 0191-6599

This list was generated on Wed May 17 12:04:27 2017 BST.

Further research activities


  • ‘Pastor and Physician: John Wesley's Cures for Consumption’ in Deborah Madden ed., Inward and Outward Health: John Wesley's Holistic Concept of Medical Science, the Environment and Holy Living (Norwich: Epworth Press, 2008)
  • ‘The Religious Politics of Prophecy: Or, Richard Brothers's Revealed Knowledge Confuted’, History of European Ideas (2008), Volume 34, pp. 270-284


  • A Cheap, Safe and Natural Medicine: Religion, Medicine and Culture in John Wesley's Primitive Physic (New York and Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007), ISBN 9789042022744


  • ‘Medicine, Science and Intellectual History’ in Richard Whatmore and Brian Young, ed., Palgrave Advances in Intellectual History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp. 147-170, ISBN 1403939012
  • ‘The Limitation of Human Knowledge: Faith and the Empirical Method in John Wesley's Medical Holism’ (2006), History of European Ideas, Volume 32, pp. 162-172


  • ‘John Wesley’, Literary Encyclopaedia Online, (2005)


  • ‘Contemporary Reaction to John Wesley's Primitive Physic: Or, the Case of William Hawes Examined’, Social History of Medicine, (2004),Volume 17, pp. 365-378
  • ‘Medicine and Moral Reform: The Place of Practical Piety in John Wesley's Art of Physic’ (2004), Church History, Volume 73, pp. 741-758


  • ‘Experience and the Common Interest of Mankind: The Enlightened Empiricism of John Wesley's Primitive Physic’ (2003), British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Volume 26, pp. 41-53


  • ‘Derrida, Faith and St Paul’ (2000), with David J. Towsey, Literature and Theology, Volume 16, pp. 396-409

Citations and reviews

Reviews for Madden’s ‘A Cheap, Safe and Natural Medicine’: Religion, Medicine and Culture in John Wesley’s Primitive Physic (New York and Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007)

"In an impressive monograph, notable for the thoroughness with which most of the recent secondary literature has been assimilated, Deborah Madden offers a systematic study of Wesley’s motivation and its grounding in his primitive Christianity… one of the real strengths of Madden’s analysis is her identification of the several levels at which Wesley’s eclectic theology did shape his medical priorities… she is surely correct, in principle, to say that […] Wesley’s eyes were focused on the natural, not the supernatural."
(John Hedley Brooke, Medical History, October 2009)

"Deborah Madden's ‘A Cheap, Safe and Natural Medicine’ is a valuable addition to The Wellcome Series in the History of Medicine, as it is the first book-length, scholarly study devoted to providing a range of detailed biographical and cultural contexts for comprehending the significance of Wesley's medical manual. [A] useful study that will be of interest to anyone concerned with the inter-relationship between religion and medicine in the period."
(David E. Shuttleton, Social History of Medicine, June 2009

"‘A Cheap, Safe and Natural Medicine’ does a nice job in capturing the whole of Wesley’s thought—not only the theological but the medicinal…. I am reminded of just how closely Wesley and the early Methodists viewed the relationship between spiritual and physical well being. I am grateful to Deborah Madden’s engaging work for helping me see this connection more clearly."
(K.Z. Laxson, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, October 2008)

Reviews for Madden (ed.), Inward and Outward Health: John Wesley’s Holistic Concept of Medical Science, the Environment and Holy Living(London: Epworth, 2008)

"Inward and Outward Health succeeds in debunking old myths and also in making a somewhat specialised (or, rather, neglected) subject accessible to the general reader…[Madden’s] own contribution on Wesley’s treatment of consumption – 'the dreaded disease' – combines eloquence with erudition."
(B. Tabraham, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, March 2010)

"This collection, under the expert eye of Deborah Madden, makes a major contribution to a growing field of historical inquiry that rightfully attracts contemporary attention."
(Richard P. Heitzenrater, William Kellon Quick Professor of Church History, Duke University, Durham, NC)

Grants and awards

2003 - 2009

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Theology Faculty, University of Oxford (Panacea Society)

2000 - 2003

  • AHRB Competition B

1996 - 1997

  • Wellcome Trust Postgraduate Research Grant

Juries, committees and editorial boards


  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
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