Tag Archives: 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 […]

Book review: Greco-Roman Medicine and What it Can Teach Us Today

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover: Greco-Roman medicine and what it can teach us today. The Republic of Rome was founded in the sixth century BC. In the third century BC, the western Roman Empire began to spread outside the borders of Italy. Roman rule came to Britain in AD 43 with the […]

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 […]

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. Banerjee Solihull, UK   Neville Samuel Finzi. Courtesy of British Institute of Radiology. 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 […]

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 […]