Lucia Mezzapelle

Book: A is for Arsenic

Exhibit: Game (PDF game)

Written Work

Creator: Lucia Mezzapelle
To play the Colours of Poison game, click on the link below and then click Present
The Colours of Poison game

My name is Lucia Mezzapelle and I am a first year student in TU Dublin studying Analytical Chemistry. I have always been interested in chemistry and I thought this is exhibit was a great opportunity for me to share that with lots of people and hopefully inspire some interest in chemistry. My exhibit is a game based inspired by the book “A is for Arsenic” by Kathryn Harkup.  

The game is called the colours of poison and it is very simple. There are a number of different coloured cards. Some of the colours are closely associated with a particular type of poison and others are not. If it’s a poison: Maybe it’s the colour of a poisonous dye that may have been responsible for the death of a famous figure. Maybe a poison gets its name from the colour. Maybe it is the colour of a poisonous compound. The aim of the game is to guess whether a colour is ‘poison’ or not. As you choose you will get some very interesting facts about the poisons associated with each colour, as well as a brief explanation of how the poison works. Every colour is in some way associated with chemistry, so if it isn’t a poison, you will still get some fun facts about the science behind it. 


My inspiration for this exhibit came from reading Kathryn Harkup’s A is for Arsenic: The poisons of Agatha Christie”. After reading this book I was fascinated by Agatha Christie’s use of poison in her novels, and also by the real-life cases of poisoning that Harkup outlined in the booked that so closely resembled Christie’s fictional ones. I was so captivated by this book and Kathryn Harkup’s descriptions of each poison’s symptoms, how they all work as well as some of their fascinating past uses, such as the use of arsenic on the face to obtain clear skin, and past (often ineffective) medical uses such as the use of thallium acetate to help with TB patients’ night sweats.

One thing that really stood out to me, however, was how so many of the poisons discussed in the book were associated with a particular colour, and the varying reasons for these associations. I found it extremely interesting how the dye in Napoleon’s wallpaper may have been responsible for his death, or how digitalis poisoning may have been responsible for Van Gogh’s “yellow period” and some of his most famous paintings. With this exhibit I hope to share what I found most interesting about this book in a fun and engaging way and hopefully inspire some people to read the book and maybe even further explore some of the chemistry topics in it.

To play the game – Click on the link to Google Slides, Click Present and away you go:

The Colours of Poison Game


Lucia Mezzapelle game image