Views & Reviews Past Caring

Hans Sloane’s bitter taste of success

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 16 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3210
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}

    Some reputations are built on sand, others on more delectable ingredients. No doubt Hans Sloane would like to have become famous for his lifelong devotion to medical science or his matchless bequest to the nation that created the British Museum.

    Yet the clever and generous physician, who championed smallpox inoculation and quinine, is best known for bringing a smile to every child’s lips. The only person ever to become president of both the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society, Sloane is most fondly remembered—entirely erroneously—as the inventor of milk chocolate.

    Born into a Protestant family in Ireland in 1660, Sloane came to London at 19 to seek his fortune …

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