Illness as inspiration by Theodore Dalrymple

Illness cover

Illness as inspiration: The Poetry of Medicine and Disease
by Theodore Dalrymple

£20 (GBP) Hippocrates Press

ISBN 978-0-9935911-4-3 

Publication date: 17th May, 2019

Hear the author Theodore Dalrymple in discussion with Hippocrates Initiative co-founder: poet and translator Professor Michael Hulse.

About the book and the author

Many of us can name Henry Vaughan and William Carlos Williams as the pre-eminent doctor poets in English, others will know that John Keats studied medicine before devoting himself to poetry and that Walt Whitman volunteered as a nurse during the American Civil War, and some will be aware of the sufferings endured by a W. E. Henley or Alexander Pope. Fewer will know that the US psychiatrist Merrill Moore was very possibly the most prolific poet who has ever lived, or that Tennyson’s poem ‘In the Children’s Hospital’ was damned as “abominable” in the British Medical Journal.


Theodore Dalrymple has produced in Illness as Inspiration a highly instructive and entertaining overview of poetry written on medical subjects by poets eminent and obscure – some so obscure, in fact, that their names will almost certainly be new to even the most widely-read. A psychiatrist and prison doctor in his professional life, as well as long-serving columnist for The Spectator, Theodore Dalrymple is the acclaimed author of numerous books on travel, medical matters, and contemporary society and culture. Now, having read Abraham Coles’ 75-page poem The Microcosm so you don’t have to, he has written an informative, compassionate and beguiling companion to what happens when poetry and medicine meet. 


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