Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Murder, mystery, and medicine

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 16 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1620
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

William Roughead (1870–1952) was the doyen of British crime writers and might even be said to have invented the genre. The style of his essays was admired by Henry James; he was a friend of Joseph Conrad; and he knew JB Priestley. He also helped a famous doctor-writer, Arthur Conan Doyle, in his long campaign to exonerate Oscar Slater, wrongly imprisoned for a murder that he did not commit.

Roughead edited Burke and Hare, in the Notable British Trials series, providing in his introduction an excellent summary of the history of that pair who killed to furnish anatomy teachers with specimens to dissect. Occasionally, some of the criminals of whom he wrote were doctors themselves, …

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