Some British literary doctors

F.M. Hull
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Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 1986;130:1769-70

There is an affinity between writing and medicine; whether the profession attracts individuals who have writing potential or the practice of medicine produces the talent is uncertain. Probably it is both. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) one of our most gifted and prolific writers, never practised medicine at all, but his first novel, ‘Liza of Lambeth’ set in the slums of 19th century London, was published in the year he qualified from St. Thomas's hospital in 1899. His early success must have been deeply influenced by his student days among the poor of the city. In contrast another doctor, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), a Scot born and educated in Edinburgh, where he qualified as a doctor in 1882, was a general practitioner near Portsmouth for seven years. Medicine creeps into his books, especially with the dull but amiable Watson who acts as sounding board for the elegant logic of the great…


Vrije Universiteit, Huisartsen Instituut, Postbus 7161, 1007 MC Amsterdam.

F.M.Hull, MB, BS, FRCGP, visiting professor.

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