Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Of human bondage

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 12 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8410
  1. Seamus O’Mahony, consultant gastroenterologist, Cork University Hospital, Ireland
  1. seamus.omahony{at}

Of Human Bondage paints a vivid picture of medical student life in late Victorian London. W Somerset Maugham graduated from St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School in 1897 but never practised. His hero in the book, Philip Carey, is a student at “St Luke’s.” He describes the first visit to the dissection room: “There was an immeasurable distance between the quick and the dead: they did not seem to belong to the same species.” Philip is bored by the preclinical subjects, but finds clinical medicine engrossing when he becomes …

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