Views & Reviews Medical Classics

My Left Foot

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 25 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e4333
  1. Ian B Johnston, specialty doctor in community paediatrics
  1. 1Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, Croydon, UK
  1. ibj1{at}

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Christy Brown’s autobiography, My Left Foot, is that it was ever written. Brown had disabling choreoathetoid cerebral palsy, and his only functional movement was, famously, in his left foot. He came from a large Dublin family of 22 children, 13 of whom survived; had no formal education; and spent an impoverished childhood in the specially built back room of their small family house.

Brown wrote the book from “an inner urge to speak.” It is a moving description of his childhood struggle with severe disability. A recurring theme is his relationship with his mother, and the book is dedicated to …

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