History: Why some people used to randomly burst into flames

Elderly drinkers were fire hazards in Dickens' day

Do you have any elderly patients who don’t mind the occasional tipple?

Charles Dickens

Then ready the fire extinguishers, as they may be prime candidates for spontaneous human combustion, at least according to Charles Dickens.

A hot topic, stories of people randomly bursting into flames weren’t all that uncommon a few hundred years ago, with many popular authors only adding fuel to the fire.

Dickens, for example, killed off a character in his novel Bleak House by means of this contentious concept, basing it closely on the real-life death of