Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Journal of a Disappointed Man

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39583.545775.4E (Published 22 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1195
  1. Robert Heys, retired consultant gynaecologist

    W N P Barbellion was the pen name of Bruce Frederick Cummings, who came from a family of journalists but rejected this profession to devote his short life to the study of natural history. Although his achievements in this field were not insignificant, his fame rests on the journal made up of extracts from the diary he kept from boyhood until his death from multiple sclerosis in 1919 at the age of 29.

    It was Barbellion’s illness that shaped his diary, and despite his lack of medical training he made many observations of clinical interest. Indeed I first read the journal …

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