Medical Anthropology

What on Earth is a Medical Anthropologist?

A medical anthropologist is someone who studies how a culture thinks about, deals with, and treats a medical issue.  Kyra focused on the medical anthropology of reproduction in grad school, and became fascinated as to why anything that goes wrong in human reproduction – such as infertility or miscarriage, stillbirth, or any other heartbreaking outcome – is assumed to be maternal in nature even though there is ample scientific evidence that the problem is paternal in nature. She decided to make male issues in reproduction her specialty, because God forbid she do anything normal like the other medical anthropologists.

Why Did a Medical Anthropologist Write a Book About Henry VIII?

Kyra may be a medical anthropologist, but she is also a longstanding history buff.

As a freshman in high school she discovered the books of Jean Plaidy. Jean Plaidy wrote historical fiction, and Kyra became hooked on the genre. Some of her favorite books by Plaidy, including Katharine of Aragon and Murder Most Royal, were about the wives of King Henry VIII. The interest in Henry’s wives infected Kyra with a lust to know more about Henry himself, which was followed in short order by reading nonfictional works about him written by professional/academic historians like J.J. Scarisbrick as well as by amateur/lay historians like Alison Weir. Kyra maintained this curiosity about Henry VIII and continued to gobble up fiction and nonfiction books about the Tudors.

During the course of her studies in medical anthropology, Kyra became convinced Henry VIII was the common factor in the poor reproductive track records of his six wives. From a medical perspective it seemed blindingly obvious to her, and an anthropological perspective would explain why it had been overlooked for so long.

To read more about how the theory about a possible cause of Henry VIII’s reproductive woes came to be and how it was turned into a book, follow this link to the webpage devoted to Blood Will Tell.

2 thoughts on “Medical Anthropology

  1. Hi Kyra! I am working on writing an “alternative history” novel set in the Court of Henry VIII. Would you have any idea what, if any, of the modern interventions for Kell negative mothers/Kell positive fathers could be retrofitted or bootlegged with the technology available in 16th Century England?

    Thank you so much!


    1. Sadly, I don’t think so. Treating an alloimune effected pregnancy is difficult, even today. The best bet would be to have one of Henry’s male relatives NOT descended from Jacquetta of Luxembourg father the babies OR have Henry sleep with several woman and then marry & retroactively legitimize the first one to have a healthy boy OR to change English law and allow the King to adopted heirs of his body and legitimize them regardless of to whom they were born. That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head. Good luck and I hope the novel goes really well!!

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