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Digital Highlight: Representing the Physician

Images of touch-pieces for scrofula.

In 1896, William Andrews published The doctor; in history, literature, folklore, etc.

Andrews assembled 20 chapters written by a variety of authors, including at least one woman (Mrs. G. Linnaeus Banks although, of course, the name may be a pseudonym). Andrews’ collection of writers covers a wide variety of topics from the history of the barber-surgeon to the medical characters created by novelist Charles Dickens. The essays range from an extremely brief — less than two-page — excursus on doctors and their use of bicycles to Cuming Walters’ lengthy essay on “Magic and Medicine.”

While Andrews did pen a short introduction to his book, his exact purpose isn’t clear. Most of the essays are light to read, and it seems unlikely that Andrews was aiming at an academic audience. The doctor seems more like an attempt at mixing amusement and education, giving readers a taste of historical detail without overloading them.

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!