One of the most famous of all medical marvels is the case of Phineas Gage, the American railroad worker who somehow survived having a large metal rod driven straight through his head. It’s a truly amazing story, but has been written about so often that you might be led to think that it was the only interesting thing to … Read more
Things have been quiet here for the last couple of months. I’ve been busy with a few other projects, including putting the final touches to my latest book The Dublin Railway Murder, which will be out later this year. My publishers Harvill Secker have done a wonderful job with the cover design, which I am delighted to be able … Read more
It’s not often that a surgical emergency is caused by a lemon pip. OK, seeds and nuts of all kinds can be a choking hazard, but when was the last time you heard of a lemon-pip-related accident that necessitated emergency eye surgery?
This, published in the New York Medical Record in 1887, is just such a case. It was reported … Read more
News today of my next big project – I’m delighted to be writing a book for Harvill Secker, for publication in November 2021.
The Dublin Railway Murder tells the story of a notorious crime perpetrated in the Broadstone railway terminus in Dublin in 1856. One morning that November, the station’s cashier George Little was found dead underneath his desk, … Read more
I was delighted to be asked to write a series of essays for the Wellcome Collection, a wonderful museum in London which houses an important collection of medical artefacts and also one of the greatest medical libraries in the world.
The subject I chose to write about is Revolutions in Medicine – in six essays I tell the stories … Read more
Philipp Franz von Walther was an eminent German surgeon highly regarded for his expertise in ophthalmology and as a pioneer in plastic surgery. While serving as professor at the University of Bonn he was also the co-editor of an influential periodical, the Journal der Chirurgie und Augenheilkunde. In 1822 he published this surprising clinical report, which was subsequently translated (and, … Read more
The year is 1840, and The Lancet brings us this snippet of medical news from Germany:
A man who, from his youth, had been accustomed to catch and tame vipers, brought two, on the 24th March, to a shopkeeper. While playing with one of the animals, he put it in his mouth…
I bet you can’t guess what happened next.… Read more
The Royal College of Physicians in London, which celebrates its 500th anniversary later this year, is currently staging a small exhibition devoted to one of its most celebrated former Fellows. William Harvey was a prominent member of the College in the 17th century, when he was also personal physician to Charles I. In 1628 he published De Motu Cordis, … Read more
Serious rail accidents have become such rare events that it’s easy to forget just how dangerous the railways were in Victorian Britain. Between 1840 and 1900 there was not a single year without a death on the rail network. In 1873 alone there were 15 fatal accidents – more than one a month – and the following year three major… Read more
In 1871 a coroner from the city of St Louis, Dr G. F. Dudley, sent a short paper entitled ‘Interesting Cases’ to the Medical Archives. They were all drawn from inquests over which he had presided, and they certainly are interesting – the first in particular.
Mr. J. H. L., aged 38, of vigorous and robust constitution, was wounded … Read more