The man with a snake in his heart

I was fascinated to stumble across this seventeenth-century autopsy report in an old edition of the British Medical Journal.  It was unearthed by Benjamin (later Sir Benjamin) Ward Richardson, one of the great figures of Victorian medicine. His name is less familiar today than that of his friend John Snow, the leading British exponent of … Continue reading The man with a snake in his heart

Shot by a toasting fork

This is one of my favourite nineteenth-century cases, which I originally intended to include in my forthcoming book but which didn’t quite make it to the final manuscript. It was written by Dr T. Davis, from the small Worcestershire town of Upton-upon-Severn, and published in the Transactions of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association in … Continue reading Shot by a toasting fork

Death from peas

In July 1842 the London Medical Gazette printed one of the most intriguing headlines in the history of the journal: The story accompanying it was told by George Johnson, a physician’s assistant at King’s College Hospital in London. This is what he had to relate:  John Lydbury, aged 60, labourer, was brought to the hospital on … Continue reading Death from peas

The fire-proof man

In 1828 The Lancet reported the antics of  a person they called ‘the fire-proof man’, a Cuban with extraordinary abilities: The French medical journal, La Clinique, gives an account of the experiments of M. Martinez, the fire-proof man, as he is called, who is now one of the principal objects of attraction at Paris. M. … Continue reading The fire-proof man