Moulded to the lid

The Victorian surgeon Sir Jonathan Hutchinson was ‘one of the great medical geniuses of his time’, according to his entry in Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows, the biographical reference work curated by the Royal College of Surgeons. Hutchinson had an astonishing range of interests – he was an expert in infectious disease (the world’s leading authority on syphilis), in … Read more

Resuscitated by a Romanov

I came across this case quite by chance, drawn in by a striking headline. But after investigating a little further I was amused to discover that one of those involved was an ancestor of mine.

This story was first published two centuries ago, in the Annual Report of the Royal Humane Society. The humane societies were organisations set up with … Read more

Death by onanism

Victorian society was famously paranoid about the dangers of masturbation. For teachers, priests and those with responsibility for young people, it was a question of morals and the corruption of youth – but the medical profession also agreed that self-abuse was a vice with terrible consequences. The old cliché that the practice ‘makes you go blind’ was not said just … Read more

The golden pin

This story has a delightful combination of youthful misadventure and surgical ingenuity. OK, so ‘delightful’ might be a bit of a stretch, but I suspect you’ve never read anything quite like it. The case was first published in a French medical journal, the Journal des Connaissances Médico-chirurgicales, in 1847.

The headline translates as ‘Memoir and observations on a new … Read more