Views & Reviews Between the Lines

The draw of dusty tomes

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c1113 (Published 24 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1113
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Not many people give a word to the language or a name to a disease, whether real or purported, but John Ferriar MD (1761-1815) did both. His poem, The Bibliomania, published in 1809, was addressed to Richard Heber, a book collector of such voracity that he needed eight houses and said that “no gentleman can be without three copies of a book, one for show, one for use and one for borrowers.”

    The poem inspired many subsequent books (Flaubert wrote a story of that title), including the Reverend Thomas Frognall Dibdin’s The Bibliomania, or Book Madness: History, Symptoms and Cure of This Fatal Disease, 89 pages long when first published …

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