Tag Archives: Robert Liston

James Simpson, who made childbirth painless

A large jolly man with broad shoulders, large hands, blue eyes, and a charismatic personality, James Young Simpson was said to have been the most popular man in Edinburgh since the death of Sir Walter Scott.1 Born in 1811 at Bathgate, he was the seventh son of a village baker in a poor family housed in […]

James Syme, the Napoleon of surgery (1799–1870)

James Syme, by John Adamson. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1855. James Syme was born in Edinburgh in the year when Napoleon became First Consul, and in later years came to be called the Napoleon or Wellington of surgery.1-6 As a young man he had an interest in chemistry and at age eighteen developed a method […]

Robert Liston – the fastest knife in town

Samuel Johnson, a man of strongly held prejudices, had a low opinion of most foreigners, and this included the Scots. James Boswell, his biographer and a Scotsman himself, records how Johnson patronizingly would declare that the best roads lead from Scotland and that much could be made of a Scotsman “if he be caught young.” […]

The brief and strange history of mesmerism and surgery

Tyler B. Rouse Stratford, Ontario, Canada   A Practitioner of Mesmerism using Animal Magnetism Wood engraving. Mesmer, Franz Anton 1734-1815. Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons The modern era of surgery is often thought to have begun with the introduction of ether, allowing surgeons to operate on insensible patients, and do more than ever before. However, before […]