In a time of war, plague and pestilence, 17th-century author Robert Burton identified melancholy as the greatest threat to the health of the nation in his famous work, The Anatomy of Melancholy.
The book is a treasure trove of esoteric learning, questionable conjectures and rambling diversions across a remarkable range of subjects.
It ranges from science to religion, food, love, and all manner of human behaviour.
The present coronavirus epidemic has closed many doors, including those of Bethlem Museum of the Mind.
“We are concerned about the mental health effects of the social isolation measures it has been necessary for us all to adopt,” said a museum spokesperson.
“Robert Burton’s insights into causes, characteristics and cures of ‘melancholia’ are idiosyncratic, unreliable and of course dated, but they are always entertaining, and from time to time they are right on point.”
On Monday, April 6, the museum is starting a virtual book club to read an abridged version of The Anatomy of Melancholy.
The club will be supported by the museum’s social media channels and is free for anyone to join.
The museum has sold out of hard copies but Kindle versions are available via Amazon by clicking here.
To let the museum know you are taking part you can Tweet @bethlemmuseum.
The book club goes live on Monday, April 6.
For more information on Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Beckenham, click here.