This article redresses a predominant focus on London among historians of health inequalities by turning to the port town of Kingston upon Hull and offering the first demographic analysis of burial records from Hull’s ‘great plague’ of 1637–38. The article shows how the social history of plague intersects with the flood metaphors of Hull poet, Andrew Marvell (1621–78) and his father, the Reverend Andrew Marvell (c.1584–1641). The article offers new understanding of Marvell as an estuary poet immersed in the floods, plagues, and environmental hazards that were a feature of life in Hull and London. It finds that Hull’s poorest householders were over three times more likely to die of plague in 1637–38 than Hull’s merchants, and argues that these are health inequalities reinforced by Marvell’s flood metaphors, which liken to Noah those with the financial means to flee from plague, while unjustly condemning the perceived impieties of the poor.
Mottram, S. (2023). Deluge and disease: plague, the poetry of flooding, and the history of health inequalities in Andrew Marvell’s Hull. Seventeenth Century, https://doi.org/10.1080/0268117X.2022.2142656