Latest Issue

How would Victorians have handled the Covid-19 pandemic?

Long before the current flare-up in Leicester, some of my ancestors were devising ways to limit the spread of infectious disease in the very same city

By Peter Kellner  

The Victorian clock tower in Leicester citycentre. Photo: Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower

At the moment, Leicester has Britain’s worst Covid-19 infection rate. One of the grim ironies of the city’s current plight is that once it blazed a trail for preventing the spread of infectious diseases. It was, admittedly, a long time ago—1878 to be precise—but the story prompts the question: would the Victorians have handled this year’s pandemic better than we have done?

My journey down memory lane—amnesia lane might be more accurate, for this is a story…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect