Mesmerising evidenceBMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b3045 (Published 29 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3045
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Feeling slightly under the weather recently, I decided to go to bed with a book. I looked on my shelves for a suitable volume and alighted on Harriet Martineau’s Life in the Sick Room.
My copy once belonged to Henry W Longfellow, the American poet who in his day was as popular as Tennyson but is now almost unread. Harriet Martineau (1802-76) was also popular in her day as a novelist, pamphleteer, travel writer, and social campaigner but is now even less read than Longfellow.
Always rather sickly and virtually deaf, resorting from an early age to an ear trumpet, Martineau spent the years 1839-44 as an almost bedbound invalid …