Arms and the manBMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39289.520174.59 (Published 30 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:453
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Many writers were also doctors, of course, and some were medical students who never qualified. Yet others were the children of doctors, as if the literary advantages of a medical career were heritable. Among them was John O'Hara, an American writer often dismissed because of his irascibility, self promotion, and reactionary political ideas as just a pulp writer.
His long story “The Doctor's Son” was written for a short story competition in 1931 whose prize money disappeared in the great depression. It is set in the middle of the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918-9, in which many more people died than in the first world war. The story is narrated by the 15 …