Views & Reviews Between the lines

Where are all the blighters?

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 19 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:855
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    The world has changed a lot since I was a boy and, I regret to say, not entirely for the better. For example, our language has become coarser, a fact that was brought forcibly home to me recently by reading R Austin Freeman's detective story The Stone Monkey, first published in 1939.

    R Austin Freeman, born in 1863, was the son of a tailor. He became a doctor, travelled as such to Ashantiland (about which he wrote his first book), contracted blackwater fever there, and then became a general practitioner in Gravesend. It seems that there was something about living on the coast that turned late Victorian general practitioners into writers of detective fiction: Conan Doyle was another. Freeman wrote a …

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