Views & Reviews Review of the week

Time again for the resurrection men?

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 07 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1223
  1. Roger Jones, Wolfson professor and head of general practice
  1. Department of General Practice and Primary Care, King's College London School of Medicine, London
  1. roger.jones{at}

    A sparkling book on the great 19th century surgeon Sir Astley Cooper should prompt us to re-examine medicine and medical education in the 21st century, says Roger Jones

    In his pomp—for pomp it was—the Guy's Hospital surgeon Astley Paston Cooper was the highest paid doctor in England, with an annual income in 1815 equivalent to over £1m today. Cooper walked with kings (and embalmed William IV) but also, famously, rode out one freezing Christmas Day at the request of the revolutionary John Thelwall to visit a friend dying in poverty. In the empirical tradition of William Harvey and William Hunter, Cooper was the pre-eminent surgical anatomist and clinical teacher of his day. He lectured to theatres packed with fee paying medical students in the Borough hospitals of Guy's and St Thomas's, where he also taught John Keats. Cooper's lecture notes formed the core of the earliest editions of the Lancet. He was a relentless dissector and vivisectionist, relying on …

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