Tuesday, October 4, 2011


This pic is an ad for my perfume of choice, Dior's Hypnotic Poison (although I've currently run out of it, except for some drops at the bottom of the bottle, despite having gone through the duty free perfumes section at the airport several times reasonably recently - apparently it's cheaper at those 'chemist warehouses', really must get some more). Perfumes with evocative names aside (did you know that Exael is the devil in charge of the perfume industry?)... One of my side interests, or I should say many interests, as they only become 'side' interests when one of them is requiring my full attention and pushing the others to the side, is poison. Yes, poison - the woman's weapon. It sounds glamorous, but in fact it's not. Actual poison works in most unaesthetically pleasing ways - and it's also easily detected. While I will write more on this soon - when I have time - I'll currently post my own bookslist of reading material on poison. Also, those in the UK can check out the Alnwick Poison Garden. This bibliography is split into two parts: books on the so-called 'Affair of the Poisons' in which members of Louis XIV's court, including his most important mistress at the time, Madame de Montespan, were embroiled in accusations of consorting with the infamous witch, LaVoisin, from whom they obtained love potions, poisons, congress with the Devil, and cosmetics (Azazel is the devil in charge of cosmetics). The next lot of books are on poisons in general, and may I especially recommend Deborah Blum, James Wharton and Gail Bell. Have a look at Nataniel Hawthorne's Rappacini's Daughter as well, and finally, try and get a hold of Seneca's Medea for an over-the-top description of making magical poisons. Here's the Loeb translation from 1917.

Poison Biblio

Strange Revelations: Magic, Poisons and Sacrilege in Louis XIV's France. by Lynn Wood Mollenauer (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007).

The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV. by Anne Somerset (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2003).

Athénaïs: The Real Queen of France. by Lisa Hamilton (Little Brown, 2002).

The Affair of the Poisons: Louis XIV, Madame de Montespan, and one of History’s Great Unsolved Mysteries. by Frances Mossiker (Victor Gollancz, 1970).

The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain was Poisoned at Home, Work and Play. By James C. Wharton. (Oxford University Press, 2010).

The Poisoner’s Handbook. by Deborah Blum (Penguin 2010).

The Bean of Calabar and Other Stories. by Steve Macinnis (Allen and Unwin, 2004).

The Poison Principle. by Gail Bell. (Picador 2001).

The Mammoth Book of Murder Science. by Roger Wilkes (Robinson 2000).

Silent Death. by Steve Preisler (Festering Publications, 1997).

Murder With Venom. by Brian Marriner. (True Crime Library 1993).

ABC Guide to Poisons. by Dr Leah Kaminsky (Haughton Miffin, 1991).

The Lady Killers. by Jonathon Goodman. (Piatkus, 1990).

Rappaccini's Daughter. by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1844).

Seneca’s Medea.

1 comment:

Caroline Tully said...

I should also add the article "Plotting a Misogynistic Path to Christian Dior's Poison" by Lynda Hoffamn-Jeep, in the journal, Western Folklore 55:4 (Autumn 1996), pp.281-296. It's interesting, but I don't really agree that the Poison fragrance is misogynistic.