Sir William Osler; Medical Humanist


Sir William Osler; Medical Humanist - Philip W. Leon, Ph.D. Sir William Osler (1849-1919) was the most famous medical doctor in the world at the turn of the last century. His textbook, Principles and Practice of Medicine, placed his medical knowledge before his colleagues worldwide. As a clinician and teacher he was without peer, and his published papers and presentations before a variety of learned groups secured his place as a thinker of the first order. In addition to his expertise in medicine, Osler had wide-ranging reading interests, and he developed friendships among the literati of his time. He treated Walt Whitman for five years. He met Mark Twain in 1881, entertained him at Oxford, and remained friends with him until Twain’s death in 1910. He knew the short story writer, Sarah Orne Jewett, whose works are enjoying renewed critical admiration. He corresponded with Edith Wharton who arranged for Osler to examine Henry James in London. Osler knew the celebrated American Realist Thomas Eakins whose portraits of surgeons Samuel D. Gross and David H. Agnew created a controversy in the art world. Philip W. Leon’s essays discuss Osler’s high regard for writers from various periods: John Keats (whose medical training was extensive for his day); Robert Browning (whose poem “Rabbi Ben Ezra” was a particular favorite), and Thomas Lovell Beddoes, an M.D. who wrote macabre poems and plays in an Elizabethan style. Osler acknowledges his debt to physicians who preceded him, particularly Nathan Smith, founder of four American medical colleges including Dartmouth and Yale. Osler achieved such a high standing in England while Regius Professor of Medicine that the United States Ambassador to Great Britain insisted that Osler provide for his medical needs. These essays complement the existing biographies and provide a glimpse into the humanistic side of Osler, revealing his interests in literature, art, politics, and more. Philip W. Leon is a professor of American literature at The Citadel; he holds the Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University. He has lectured on Osler at the Royal College of Physicians (London), the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh), in Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, Kansas City, and elsewhere. This is his sixth book. 2007, 5½x8½, paper, index, 188 pp.

ISBN: 9780788433979