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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Nameless woe: medical themes in Richard II

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 31 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3843
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

More has been written about Shakespeare and the law than about Shakespeare and medicine, yet you could still fill a small library with the second group; and it is my contention that every play of his contains much to interest doctors. To test this hypothesis I took one play, Richard II, to scan it for medical interest.

I chose Richard II because I found an edition for £1 in a nearby charity shop, which I thought I could mark up without a sense of guilt at the defacement. Annotations to books are always ugly and disfiguring until they are 100 years old, when they become of historical interest. It is a curious transformation.

The medical …

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