Dr Janet Weston

Associate Professor

United Kingdom

I studied English Literature as an undergraduate, and then worked in the charity sector while studying for an MA in Contemporary Literature and an MSc in the history of science and medicine in the evenings. I then left my day job in 2012 to try academia full-time, undertaking a PhD in History at Birkbeck, University of London. My PhD examined medical explanations and treatments for sexual offenders over the 20th century, and formed the basis of my first book, Medicine, the Penal System, and Sexual Crime in England 1919-1960s (Bloomsbury, 2017).

I joined the Centre for History in Public Health at LSHTM in 2016 as a Research Fellow on 'Prisoners, medical care, and entitlement to health in England and ireland, 1850-2000', focusing on responses to HIV/AIDS in prisons in the 1980s and 1990s. I then held a Wellcome Trust Fellowship (2018-2021), to investigate the history of the medico-legal concept of mental incapacity in England over the twentieth century, and particularly the history of what is now the Court of Protection. One highlight of this was the production of two short films, bringing to life the stories of women found 'incapable of managing their affairs' in the 1930s.

My current project, also funded by the Wellcome Trust, is entitled 'Ethics and British public health law, 1920-2020'. This will run from 2021 to 2026. As part of this, I am also exploring the role of the humanities in public health, and am developing a public health humanities network: visit for more info.


Department of Public Health, Environments and Society
Faculty of Public Health and Policy


Health & History (intensive and distance learning)

Principles of Social Research

Guest lectures on various modules


'Ethics and British public health law, 1920-2020'. As well as investigating the changing role and nature of ethics within British public health law, this will develop the public health humanities as a mode of designing and implementing interdisciplinary research in public health.

Having worked on histories of prison medicine, forensic psychiatry, HIV/AIDS, and mental illness, I am also interested in historical perspectives on deviance and difference, crime and punishment, law and policy, care, vulnerability, and ethics, particularly in relation to mental health, gender, sexuality, age, and disability. I am interested in supervising doctoral candidates in any of these areas.
Research Area
History of public health
History (social science)
History of medicine
Medical law
Social ethics
Disease and Health Conditions
Mental health
United Kingdom

Selected Publications

Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe
Manchester University Press
Responding to HIV/AIDS in European prisons, 1980s-2000
Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe: new and regional perspectives
Legal Sources in the History of Psychiatry
Sources in the History of Psychiatry, from 1800 to the Present
The epidemic that changed Britain
BBC History Magazine
See more information