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#92387 - 01/17/03 03:30 PM Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
In one of the last of the "engines" episodes it mentioned Conan Doyle's having been
a practising physician. I found a comparatively short biography that told me a great
deal about him that I had not known before. He had a successful practice, but amazingly
preferred the agonzing drudgery of writing. He was knighted for service as military surgeon
in the Boer War. On a previous thread someone said his spiritualism was reaction to loss of
a son in WWI. It apparently predated this by many years. I still find it hard to reconcile with his
outstanding intelligence and scientific training.
Here's the URL:http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/Biography/index.htm

It might make an interesting thread to have a list of physicians who became successful
authors. I remember Somerset Maugham, Michael Crichton. How many can you add to the list?

#92388 - 01/17/03 04:37 PM speaking of Holmes...
wofahulicodoc Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/06/01
Posts: 6942
Loc: Worcester, MA
physicians who became successful authors

Oliver Wendell Holmes for one, who did more than "just" be a successful author.

Since we're on the Medicine page - you might have fun reading his poem "The Fly in the Stethoscope" :-)

(Sorry, I couldn't find an online text easly; didn't try eMule, etc - Happy Hunting!)

#92389 - 01/24/03 08:06 AM Re: speaking of Holmes...
Alex Williams Offline

Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 1814
Loc: Spam Factory
Wasn't the character of Sherlock Homes inspired by one of ACD's professors at medical school? Apparently he could deduce many details about a person by subtle physical signs.

I believe the following writers were physicians:

William Carlos Williams
Walker Percy (one of my favorite writers)
Michael Crighton

Then there's Oliver Sacks, who is a practicing neurologist who writes what I would call medical books for lay people. The late Graham Chapman from Monty Python's Flying Circus was a medical school graduate. I am not sure if he ever actually practiced or if he simply went straight into clicking coconuts together.

#92390 - 01/24/03 09:10 AM Re: speaking of Holmes...
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Nice list, Alex. Here's a paragraph from the Doyle bio link above:

The young medical student met a number of future authors who were also attending
the university, such as for instance James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson. But
the man who most impressed and influenced him, was without a doubt, one of his
teachers, Dr. Joseph Bell. The good doctor was a master at observation, logic,
deduction, and diagnosis. All these qualities were later to be found in the persona of
the celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes.

#92391 - 01/24/03 12:03 PM A statue of Conan Doyle
dxb Offline

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
Just general interest:

Conan Doyle lived for the last 21 years of his life in Crowborough, Sussex, about 30 minutes drive from me. The house that he had built, Windlesham, is now a retirement home I believe. Recently the town has erected a bronze statue to him in a prominent position and a friend of mine has been commissioned to produce a documentary record on the artistís work in creating the statue. There is also a Sherlock Holmes museum in the town that I have yet to see, but I shall make a point of it this summer.

#92392 - 04/19/03 09:55 PM Re: doctor/authors
Coffeebean Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/11/03
Posts: 725
Loc: Oregon, USA
In reply to:

physicians who became successful authors

Don't forget Dr. Albert Schweitzer - author, musician, medical doctor, missionary, theologian.

#92393 - 04/20/03 11:57 AM Re: doctor/authors
maahey Offline

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 555
physicians who became successful authors

Let us not forget, AJ Cronin!

#92394 - 04/20/03 12:20 PM Re: doctor/authors
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
And I had forfgotten Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park. He graduated from Harvard Mecical
School, but never completed requirements for licensure, because he could not stand the
sight of blood.

#92395 - 04/20/03 03:03 PM Re: doctor/authors
maahey Offline

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 555
I have this nagging feeling that there are more Russian authors who were also doctors, than just Chekov. Whilst researching this on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I found this quote by Chekov:
"Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other."

#92396 - 04/20/03 03:35 PM Re: doctor/authors
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
Don't forget Dr. Albert Schweitzer - author, musician, medical doctor, missionary, theologian.

Ah!...Dr. Schweitzer. His Reverence for Life should be required reading at every secondary school.


The following words by Albert Schweitzer are excerpted from Chapter 26 of The Philosophy of Civilization and from The Ethics of Reverence for Life. If you want to have more text about the "Origin of Reverence of Life": http://www.schweitzer.org/english/ase/aseref1.htm

I am life which wills to live, in the midst of life which wills to live. As in my own will-to-live there is a longing for wider life and pleasure, with dread of annihilation and pain; so is it also in the will-to-live all around me, whether it can express itself before me or remains dumb. The will-to-live is everywhere present, even as in me. If I am a thinking being, I must regard life other than my own with equal reverence, for I shall know that it longs for fullness and development as deeply as I do myself. Therefore, I see that evil is what annihilates, hampers, or hinders life. And this holds true whether I regard it physically or spiritually. Goodness, by the same token, is the saving or helping of life, the enabling of whatever life I can to attain its highest development.

In me the will-to-live has come to know about other wills-to-live. There is in it a yearning to arrive at unity with itself, to become universal. I can do nothing but hold to the fact that the will-to-live in me manifests itself as will-to-live which desires to become one with other will-to-live.

Ethics consist in my experiencing the compulsion to show to all will-to-live the same reverence as I do my own. A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives. If I save an insect from a puddle, life has devoted itself to life, and the division of life against itself has ended. Whenever my life devotes itself in any way to life, my finite will-to-live experiences union with the infinite will in which all life is one.

An absolute ethic calls for the creating of perfection in this life. It cannot be completely achieved; but that fact does not really matter. In this sense reverence for life is an absolute ethic. It makes only the maintenance and promotion of life rank as good. All destruction of and injury to life, under whatever circumstances, it condemns as evil. True, in practice we are forced to choose. At times we have to decide arbitrarily which forms of life, and even which particular individuals, we shall save, and which we shall destroy. But the principle of reverence for life is nonetheless universal and absolute.

Such an ethic does not abolish for man all ethical conflicts but compels him to decide for himself in each case how far he can remain ethical and how far he must submit himself to the necessity for destruction of and injury to life. No one can decide for him at what point, on each occasion, lies the extreme limit of possibility for his persistence in the preservation and furtherance of life. He alone has to judge this issue, by letting himself be guided by a feeling of the highest possible responsibility towards other life. We must never let ourselves become blunted. We are living in truth, when we experience these conflicts more profoundly.

Whenever I injure life of any sort, I must be quite clear whether it is necessary. Beyond the unavoidable, I must never go, not even with what seems insignificant. The farmer, who has mown down a thousand flowers in his meadow as fodder for his cows, must be careful on his way home not to strike off in wanton pastime the head of a single flower by the roadside, for he thereby commits a wrong against life without being under the pressure of necessity.<

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