Re-framing disability: portraits from the Royal College of Physicians


Edited by Bridget Telfer, Emma Shepley and Carole Reeves

Re-framing disability explores a group of rare portraits from the 17th to the 19th centuries held by the Royal College of Physicians. The portraits depict disabled men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, many of whom earned a living exhibiting themselves to the public.

Critical to the success of the project was the involvement of 27 disabled participants from accross the UK, who came together to discuss the historical portraits and their relevance to their lives. Participants were also invited to have their photographic portraits taken, and to be filmed.

The catalogue reveals the story behind the creation of the Re-framing disability project, the research findings exploring the historical portraits, and the autobiographical text of the disabled participants.


  • Preface - Emma Shepley, curator and heritage manager, Royal College of Physicians 
  • Medical or social? A note on models of disability - Julie Anderson, senior lecturer in the history of modern medicine, University of Kent 
  • Realising 'Re-framing disability' - Bridget Telfer, project curator, Royal College of Physicians 
  • Thinking about difference... - Tony Heaton, chief executive of Shape
  • Public bodies: disability on display - Julie Anderson
  • Historical portraits of disabled people at the Royal College of Physicians - Carole Reeves, outreach historian, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London; Julie Anderson and Bridget Telfer 
  • Contemporary photographic portraits and autobiographies of disabled participants
  • References

Membership discount available for this product

To apply for your discount please create an account using the same email address as your main RCP account or log in.

Related products

500 years of the Royal College of Physicians

'The 500th anniversary of the Royal College of Physicians is a huge source of pride for us as we ...

A garden of medicinal plants

By Henry Oakeley, Jane Knowles, Michael de Swiet and Anthony Dayan A garden of medicinal plants...

A rhyming alphabet of medicinal plants

By Dr Henry Oakeley A new book from Dr Henry Oakeley, the Royal College of Physicians garden fell...