The Ghost Map

The founder and first president of the General Board of Health, Edwin Chadwick was an influential and controversial figure in the history of public health. Like many of his contemporaries, Chadwick believed in miasma theory—i.e., the idea that diseases are spread through bad odors. Chadwick believed that he could use the Board to rebuild London’s sewer system; in the end, however, his defining achievement as president of the GBH was to pump more filth into the River Thames, directly contributing to the cholera epidemics of the mid-19th century, and probably triggering thousands of deaths. Chadwick is a poignant example of “theory blindness”—he was so completely devoted to miasma theory that he refused to see the truth, even after John Snow compiled convincing evidence that miasma theory was wrong.

Edwin Chadwick Quotes in The Ghost Map

The The Ghost Map quotes below are all either spoken by Edwin Chadwick or refer to Edwin Chadwick. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of The Ghost Map published in 2007.
Chapter 5 Quotes

No doubt he had done more than anyone alive to focus attention on the shameful condition of the industrial poor, and to mobilize forces to correct those problems. But some of the most significant programs he put in place ended up having catastrophic effects.

Related Characters: Edwin Chadwick
Page Number: 113-114
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Chapter 8 Quotes

Cities are invariably shaped by their master planners and their public officials; Chadwick and Farr had a tremendous impact on Victorian London—most of it positive, despite the miasma diversions. But in the last instance, the energy and vitality and innovation of cities comes from the Henry Whiteheads—the connectors and entrepreneurs and public characters who make the urban engine work at the street level.

Page Number: 225
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Edwin Chadwick Character Timeline in The Ghost Map

The timeline below shows where the character Edwin Chadwick appears in The Ghost Map. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: All Smell is Disease
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
Benjamin Hall’s predecessor on the Board was a man named Edwin Chadwick. Chadwick had made a name for himself by conducting groundbreaking research into the London sewer... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
The problems that Chadwick wrestled with continue to challenge society in the 21st century: how can societies industrialize humanely?;... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
Edwin Chadwick launched a crusade on sanitation issues, resulting in the Public Health Act of 1848, which... (full context)
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Chadwick’s “innovations” in public health directly contributed to London’s cholera epidemics of the mid-19th century. It... (full context)
Chapter 8: Conclusion
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
...Vibrio cholera bacterium, further strengthening the waterborne theory of cholera. Some figures, such as Edwin Chadwick, continued to support miasma theory, but most public health institutions embraced Snow and Koch’s research.... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
Class and Prejudice Theme Icon
...fight these problems, they’ll be dealing with ten times as many people as Farr or Chadwick had to deal with. (full context)