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Congratulations go to Lizzie Marx, a PhD student of the University of Cambridge, who has been awarded the Art History/University Library Curatorial Prize 2018.

Smelly Remedy: Womb Fumigation Illustrated in 17th Century Print has been curated from items found in the University Library collections, and tells the story of how ailments of ‘the troublesome and unpredictable organ’ were treated with attractive fragrances.

In the seventeenth century, the womb was regarded as a troublesome and unpredictable organ which afflicted women with numerous ailments. To pacify the wild womb, marriage was usually prescribed, but a favoured short-term remedy was fumigation. Like a second nose, the womb was considered to be attracted to pleasant perfumes and repulsed by stench. A womb could therefore be coaxed back to its ‘rightful place’ by wafting fragrant ingredients beneath it. Smelly Remedy shows examples of this procedure from the University Library collection and examines how the remedy was visually represented to a wide readership.

Smelly Remedy is on display now until 31 March in the University Library's Entrance Hall, and is free and open to all.

You can also view the exhibition online at