A novelist and a surgeon


Wednesday 2 December 2015


Venue Royal Society of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street
Organised by

History of Medicine Society


2 CPD points

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about this event

A novelist and a surgeon is an evening event and an intriguing delve into the history of the health of an 18th century novelist where Professor Louise Scheuer will talk about the correlation of skeletal and documentary evidence. She will relate the talk to Samuel Richardson, an English writer and printer in the 18th century.

Dr Ruth Richardson will tell the story of  an extraordinary stroke of luck, by which she discovered Joseph Lister's first surgical operation -  missed by his biographers - in which he saved two lives with one operation. 

Aims and objectives

The surgeon

  • To bring to our notice a previously unknown account of Lister’s first operation.
  • To demonstrate Lister’s surgical skill at an early stage of his career.
  • To give an account of the then contemporary views regarding the management of lacerated bowel.
  • To discern that Lister's interest in saving lives via surgical cleanliness can now be dated back to his days at medical school.


The novelist

  • An appreciation of what evidence can be gathered from skeletal remains alone. 
  • How rarely it is that skeletal and documentary evidence can be correlated. 
  • A warning that it is easy with archaeological material to suggest definite conclusions from unconfirmed facts.



5.30 pm


6.00 pm

Introduction by the President

Dr David Siegler, President, History of Medicine Society, Royal Society of Medicine

6.05 pm

The health of an 18th century novelist: A correlation of skeletal and documentary evidence

Professor Louise Scheuer, University of Dundee

6.55 pm

Lister's first operation

Dr Ruth Richardson, Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Life Writing Research, King's College London

7.45 pm

Completion of evaluation forms

7.50 pm

Close of meeting

8.00 pm


For those who have pre-booked

register for this event

  • Online registration has now closed.
  • On the day registrations for the meeting will be available on the day.
  • We are unable to accept any further dinner registrations.
  • RSM member rates start from £20
  • Non member rates start from £30


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organiser's details

For information on this event, contact Alison ChanTel: 02072903937 Fax: 02072902992 Email: history@rsm.ac.uk arrow