Too posh to infect?BMJ 2008; 337 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a1354 (Published 20 August 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1354
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
In John Buchan’s last book, Sick Heart River, published posthumously in 1941, the protagonist, Sir Edward Leithen, has been given a year to live by an eminent London specialist, Acton Croke. A gas attack in the first world war has awakened tuberculosis as a delayed effect, and it is now galloping through his lungs. Although occurring only a handful of years before the discovery of streptomycin, Sir Edward’s tuberculosis is a death sentence.
Buchan finished the book just a few days before his own death from cerebral thrombosis. Then governor general of Canada, he had been a martyr to peptic ulcer for decades, and he eked out his …