Views & Reviews Between the lines

Murder he wrote

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39202.466528.59 (Published 07 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1225
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    There have been many doctors who murdered, but few who did so who reached the top of the profession—the medical profession, that is. Oddly enough, Robert Louis Stevenson seems, in his short story The Body-Snatcher, to accuse Sir William Fergusson, professor of Surgery at King's College Hospital, and surgeon to Queen Victoria, of having been both an accessory to murder, and a murderer, in his youth.

    In the story, a degenerate doctor called Fettes meets by chance a successful, rich, and eminent London practitioner called Wolfe Macfarlane. It turns out that they knew each other when both were students in Edinburgh, and both were assistants to Mr K, a private teacher of anatomy there. They both took delivery …

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