The year 1918 saw both the end of the greatest war the world had seen to date, the First World War, and the greatest epidemic in modern history. Between them, these two global scourges probably claimed more than 100 million lives, with the flu claiming by far the greater proportion. The world in 1918 was a very different world to that prior to the war: empires had disappeared, maps were busily being drawn and re-drawn, nascent nations were trying to assert themselves, particularly due to the ‘heady brew of self-determination’, international and domestic power relations were altered irrevocably, and much of the world’s financial and commercial structures had been swept away (Steiner 2005: 1). However, this was not simply an interregnum or a period of slowly and inexorably sliding into the next world war, as some have portrayed it; rather, there was a longing for peace, a sense of renewal and possibility, there was to be a time of potential and of reconstruction (Steiner 2005). But before any of this could be fully explored, the flu was to blight millions of lives.