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Non-Fiction | Frankie : The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide

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It gives us great pleasure in taking part in Rachel’s Random Resources one day blog blitz spotlighting Frankie: the woman who saved millions from Thalidomide.

This is an important work of non-fiction by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenko.


Thalidomide: patented in Germany as a non-toxic cure-all for sleeplessness and morning sickness. A wonder drug with no side-effects.

We know differently now.

Today, thalidomide is a byword for tragedy and drug reform – a sign of what happens when things aren’t done ‘the right way’. But when it was released in the 1950s, it was the best thing since penicillin – something that doctors were encouraged to prescribe to all of their patients. Nobody could anticipate what it actually did: induce sleeping, prevent morning sickness, and drastically harm unborn children.

But, whilst thalidomide rampaged and ravaged throughout most of the West, it never reached the United States. It landed on the desk of Dr Frances Kelsey, and there it stayed as she battled hierarchy, patriarchy, and the Establishment in an effort to prove that it was dangerous. Frankie is her story.

Book cover for Frankie : The Woman who Saved Million from Thalidomide by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenko

Frankie : The Woman who Saved Millions from Thalidomide is published by The History Press and is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.


Author photo James Essinger

SANDRA KOUTZENKO is a bilingual writer whose work spans a variety of categories and topics, ranging from French poetry to English non-fiction, focusing on human nature and the conflict between its potential for greatness and its propensity for destruction.

Twitter @TheHistoryPress

Instagram @TheHistoryPressUK

JAMES ESSINGER is the author of non-fiction books that focus on STEM subjects and personalities, including Charles and Ada (The History Press) and Ada’s Algorithm (Gibson Square), the latter of which has been optioned for a film. He lives in Canterbury.

Facebook james.essinger

Twitter @jamesessinger

Author photo Sandra Koutzenko

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 8+ years. My love of reading, crocheting and being out in nature are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school. I'm passionate about early help and sharing strategies with families to empower and help build resilience. I'm a member of of my Local Authority's Early Help Operational Board, working alongside other professionals to instigate change and growth.