Category Archives: medicine

Kipling and Syphilis

The June edition of the Kipling Journal arrived today, including a letter I wrote to the editor about the story ‘Dayspring Mishandled’ (collected in Limits and Renewals of 1932). I suggest that the hidden theme of the story is the subject of syphilis (unmentionable in the family-oriented magazines where Kipling’s work was usually published) . […]

Henry Carr, and the history behind ‘Travesties’

Last week I hugely enjoyed the excellent production of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties at the Apollo Theatre in London. A note in the programme about Henry Carr (the play’s central character) was interesting enough to send me off on a minor investigation.

‘Is that all?’

From W. Pett Ridge’s novel, The Amazing Years (1917): “Where were you wounded?” was the usual inquiry, and the soldier could never tell whether the questioner wanted geographical or bodily information. “l’m sure you must be dreadfully keen on getting back to the fighting line,” was a remark that did not always gain an enthusiastic […]

‘War, Art and Surgery’ at the Hunterian Museum

I had a bit of spare time in London last Friday, so took a look at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. I’d never been there before. The main museum space is packed with medical curiosities – deformed skulls and pickled gall bladders, that sort of thing. Invaluable […]

Doctor Scroggy’s War

For his new play at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, Howard Brenton has chosen to tell the story of one of the most remarkable men of the Great War. Harold Gillies (a New Zealander) was the pioneer of plastic surgery in Britain, developing remarkable techniques to help men with broken faces. Among the most successful of these […]

Wounded dogs

Click here to see some 1918 German film of a field hospital for dogs. A reminder of just how many dogs there were on the Western Front.

No dancing for nurses

Thanks to a tweet from Sue Light (twittering as @Scarletfinders): The 1906 origin of the ban on British military nurses attending dances, so criticised during WW1 by some. This Hansard extract (HC Deb 01 November 1906 vol 163 cc1315-6 1315) explains the reasoning behind it: § MR. RENDALL (Gloucestershire, Thornbury) I beg to ask the Secretary […]

Emily Mayhew’s ‘Wounded’

Wounded: From Battlefield to Blighty 1914-1918 tackles the story of First World War battlefield medicine in an ingenious and effective way. Instead of giving top-down history – describing the development and structure of official military and medical organisations – it tracks the likely progression of a wounded man from the mud of Flanders to a […]