Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Pick your own nits

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5117 (Published 30 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5117
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

If there is a single law of literary life, it is that nit pickers will have their own nits picked. My copy of Essays and Studies by W A Osborne establishes this clearly. Osborne (1873-1967) was professor of physiology at the University of Melbourne. Born of a Presbyterian clergyman in County Down, he was a rationalist with a particular dislike of Catholicism. He was an expert in nutrition, and advised Captain Scott before his ill fated Antarctic mission. Scott did not take his advice, however, with unfortunate results.

Osborne was also a literary scholar of distinction, speaking several languages fluently. He was undecided whether to take the chair of physiology or that of English, and perhaps …

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