Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Britain

  • Scotland’s Anthrax Island

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Cutaneous anthrax lesion on the neck, May 25, 1953. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. “They make a desolation and call it peace.” — Agha Shahid Ali (1949–2001)   During World War Two, the British government purchased from its owners the Gruinard…

  • John Hunter, his wolf dogs, and the inherited smiles of Pomeranians

    Stephen Martin United Kingdom   Fig 1. Title of Hunter’s Royal Society wolf dogs paper. © Author, from original, CC-BY 4.0 John Hunter, 1728-1793, was a polymathic doctor. Besides being an anatomist and clinician, he was also interested in early genetics, exemplified by his “Observations tending to shew that the Wolf, Jackal, and Dog, are…

  • Book review: “All manner of ingenuity and industry”: a bio-bibliography of Dr. Thomas Willis 1621–1675

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover of “All manner of ingenuity and industry” by Alastair Compston. Thomas Willis, born four hundred years ago, is still known by students of neuroanatomy today for the eponymous Circle of Willis. Yet most doctors do not know the story of Willis, the seventeenth-century British physician and his…

  • How Britain rescued scientists from Nazi tyranny

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Signatories to Letter to The Times, 22 May 1933 In March 1933 while visiting Vienna, William Beveridge, Director of the London School of Economics, learned that Hitler had just decreed it illegal for “non-Aryan,” mostly Jewish people to hold posts in the Civil Service. Many lawyers, doctors, and…

  • Thomas Keith: Pioneer photographer and pioneer surgeon

    Iain Macintyre Edinburgh, Scotland Figure 1. Thomas Keith. Artist and date unknown. Etching with Keith’s signature (image reproduced with permission Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh). “His success so far outstripped that of all other operators, that it became a wonder and admiration of surgeons all over the world.”1 So wrote J Marion Sims (1813–1883),…

  • Thriving in the face of uncertainty

    Sally Mather Chris Millard Ian Sabroe Sheffield, England   The experience of uncertainty has appeared as a frequent narrative in articles, autobiographies, and memoirs written by doctors over the last century. A persistent belief that better training, tests, evidence, and pathways will reduce uncertainty has not been borne out in the experience of contemporary clinicians.…

  • Neville Samuel Finzi—British radiotherapy pioneer

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, UK Neville Samuel Finzi was born on June 25, 1881.1 He was the son of Gerald Finzi’s uncle, Leon, who was also a doctor. Gerald Finzi was a British composer famous for his song cycles, choral music, and reflective instrumental and orchestral works including a violin and cello concerto. Neville attended University…

  • Sir Victor Horsley’s fatal blind spot

    Faraze A. Niazi Jack E. Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, United States     Sir Victor Horsley. Photograph by G.C. Beresford. Credit: Wellcome Collection. (CC BY 4.0) A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind. -Robert Oxton Bolton Sir Victor Horsley is generally regarded as the…

  • Plague epidemics and the evolution of language in England

    Andrew P. K. Wodrich Washington, DC, United States   Pierart dou Tielt’s illustration depicts the mortal toll of the Black Death in a Belgian town circa 1353. Similarly, the plague decimated the population of England, spurring the change from French to English as the country’s dominant spoken language. Via Wikimedia Commons here.  Epidemics have had a profound impact…

  • The past and future of blood banking

    Eva Kitri Mutch Stoddart Saigon, Vietnam   Image from “Clysmatica nova: sive ratio, qua in venam sectam medicamenta immitti possint, ut eodem modo, ac si per os assumta fuissent, operentur: addita etiam omnibus seculis inaudita sanguinis transfusion,” Artist: Elsholtz, Johann Sigismund (1623–1688), 1667. Wellcome Collection. Public domain. Blood oozes allure. The elixir of life, viscous…