Physician writer

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Physician writers are physicians who write creatively in fields outside their practice of medicine.

The following is a partial list of physician-writers by historic epoch or century in which the author was born, arranged in alphabetical order.


Middle Ages[edit]

15th century[edit]

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

21st century[edit]

Why physicians write[edit]

Physicians have a long history, dating back to Greek medicine, of literary activities. This may have its origins in mythology. Apollo was the god of both poetry and medicine. Pallas Athene was the goddess of poetry, healing and war. Brigit was the Celtic patroness of poets, smiths and healers.

It is thought that through their privileged and intimate contact with those moments of greatest human drama (birth, illness, injury, suffering, disease, death) physicians are in a unique position to observe, record and create the stories that make us human. "The clinical gaze [has] much in common with the artist's eye."[32]

Robert Louis Stevenson, in his Preface to Underwoods,[33] described this unique privilege:

There are men and classes of men that stand above the common herd: the soldier, the sailor, and the shepherd not infrequently; the artist rarely; rarelier still, the clergyman; the physician almost as a rule. He is the flower (such as it is) of our civilization; and when that stage of man is done with, and only to be marvelled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little, as any in the defects of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the race. Generosity he has, such as is possible to those who practise an art, never to those who drive a trade; discretion, tested by a hundred secrets; tact, tried in a thousand embarrassments; and what are more important, Heraclean cheerfulness and courage. So that he brings air and cheer into the sick room, and often enough, though not so often as he wishes, brings healing.

The challenges of combining medical practice with writing are addressed by neurologist and pharmacologist Harold L. Klawans in his study, Chekhov's Lie.[34]

Worldwide organizations[edit]

In 1955 a group of physician-writers created the International Federation of Societies of Physician-Writers (FISEM). One of the founders was Dr. André Soubiran, author of Hommes en blanc (The Doctors). Other founders included Italian Professors Nasi and Lombroso, Belgian Drs. Sévery and Thiriet, Swiss physicians Junod and René Kaech, and eminent French writers of the medical academy. Dr. Mirko Skoficz was a key figure at the first FISEM congress in San Remo, Italy, along with his wife, Italian film star Gina Lollobrigida.

In 1973 FISEM changed its name to UMEM—Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médécins, or World Union of Physician Writers.[35] Its current president is Dr. Carlos Vieira Reis of Portugal. UMEM is an umbrella organization that subsumes physician-writer groups in:

  • Belgium, Groupement Belge des Médecins-Écrivains[36]
  • Brazil, Sociedade Brasileira de Médicos Escritores SOBRAMES[37]
  • Bulgaria, Club des Écrivains Médecins en Bulgarie[38]
  • France, Groupement des Ecrivains – Médecins [GEM][39]
  • Germany, Bundesverband Deutscher Schriftstellerärzte [BDSA][40]
  • Greece, Hellenic Society of Physician Writers[41]
  • Italy, A.M.S.I.[42]
  • Netherlands, Penaescula [43]
  • Poland, Unia Polskich Pisarzy Medyków [UPPL][44]
  • Portugal, Sociedade Portuguesa dos Escritores Médicos [SOPEAM][45]
  • Romania, Societaea Medicilor Scriitori şi Publicişti din România[46]
  • South America, Liga Sud-Americana de Médicos-Escritores LISAME[47]
  • Spain, Asociación Española de Médicos Escritores e Artistas [AEMEA][48]
  • Switzerland, Association Suisse des Écrivains Médecins [ASEM][49]

Anglophone associations[edit]

In the Anglophone world, the lead has been taken by New York University (NYU) with their encyclopedic Literature, Arts & Medicine Database[50] and blog.[51] An associated resource is the Medical Humanities directory:

These sites were established in 1994 at the New York University School of Medicine and were:

"dedicated to providing a resource for scholars, educators, students, patients, and others who are interested in the work of medical humanities. We define the term 'medical humanities' broadly to include an interdisciplinary field of humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, sociology), and the arts (literature, theater, film, and visual arts) and their application to medical education and practice. The humanities and arts provide insight into the human condition, suffering, personhood, our responsibility to each other, and offer a historical perspective on medical practice. Attention to literature and the arts helps to develop and nurture skills of observation, analysis, empathy, and self-reflection – skills that are essential for humane medical care. The social sciences help us to understand how bioscience and medicine take place within cultural and social contexts and how culture interacts with the individual experience of illness and the way medicine is practiced."[52]

Daniel Bryant, an American internist, has compiled an extensive list of fellow physician writers.[53]

The Johns Hopkins University Press publishes Literature and Medicine, "a journal devoted to exploring interfaces between literary and medical knowledge and understanding. Issues of illness, health, medical science, violence, and the body are examined through literary and cultural texts."[54]

Dartmouth Medical School publishes Lifelines, an art and literature journal dedicated to featuring the works of physicians[55] and their experiences in medicine.

The British Medical Association keeps an updated, though selective, list of physician-writers on its web site.[56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Petrycy Sebastian, Encyklopedia Polski (Encyclopedia of Poland), Kraków, Wydawnictwo Ryszard Kluszczyński, 1996, ISBN 83-86328-60-6, p. 496.
  2. ^ Keith Thomas, "The Greening Genius of Thomas Browne", The New York Review of Books, vol. LXII, no. 16 (22 October 2015), pp. 67–69.
  3. ^ W Osier, John Keats–the apothecary poet, Johns Hopkins Husp Bull 7 (1896), pp. 11–16.
  4. ^ The San Antonio College LitWeb Tobias Smollett Page
  5. ^ "Josephine Bell".
  6. ^ Anton CHEKHOV
  7. ^ "The Arthur Conan Doyle Society Home Page".
  8. ^ "The Chronicles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle".
  9. ^ "William Henry Drummond".
  10. ^ "R. Austin Freeman".
  11. ^ SEARC'S WEB GUIDE – Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878–1957)
  12. ^ Craig Showalter (September 1997). "Somerset Maugham — World Traveler, Famed Storyteller". Caxtonian. Caxton Club of Chicago.
  13. ^ In: SW Mitchell, Editor, The autobiography of a quack and other stories, The Century Co, New York (1915), pp. 83–109.
  14. ^ Perović S, Sirovica S (2004). "[Life and work of Dr. Bozo Pericić (1865-1947), genius of our medicine]". Lijec Vjesn. 126 (9–10): 264–70. PMID 15918326.
  15. ^ "Schnitzler, Arthur". Archived from the original on 28 May 2006. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  16. ^ "Adolfo Valderrama Sainz de la Peña - Reseñas Biográficas Parlamentarias".
  17. ^ "PAL: William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)".
  18. ^ "Charlotte Wolff".
  19. ^ "Vassily Aksyonov". eNotes.
  20. ^ Photo:
  21. ^ "Ricorso: Digital materials for the study and appreciation of Anglo-Irish Literature".
  22. ^ "Internationally Bestselling Author Tess Gerritsen". Tess Gerritsen.
  23. ^ "Bernard Knight at Tangled Web UK".
  24. ^ "Keith McCarthy - The official website of Author Keith McCarthy".
  25. ^ Merrill Moore (1903–1957)
  26. ^ "Michael Palmer Books".
  27. ^ "Department of English".
  28. ^ Steve Pieczenik
  29. ^ "Teen Ink".
  30. ^ Shem, S. (2002). "Fiction as Resistance". Annals of Internal Medicine. 137 (11): 934–7. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-137-11-200212030-00022. PMID 12459000.
  31. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Frank G. Slaughter". Books and Writers ( Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 20 February 2008.
  32. ^ McLellan, M. F. (1997). "Literature and medicine: Physician-writers". The Lancet. 349 (9051): 564–7. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(97)80120-1. PMID 9048804.
  33. ^ Edinburgh edition, 1894; London, Charles Baxter & Sidney Colvin.
  34. ^ Harold L. Klawans, Chekhov's Lie, 1997, ISBN 1-888799-12-9.
  35. ^ UMEM
  36. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  37. ^ pt.wikipedia – Sobrames
  38. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  39. ^ "".
  40. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  41. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  42. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  43. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  44. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  45. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  46. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  47. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  48. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  49. ^ Sociétés | UMEM – Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médecins
  50. ^ <>
  51. ^ <>
  52. ^ "LitMed: Literature Arts Medicine Database".
  53. ^ Bryant, D. C. (1994). "A roster of twentieth-century physicians writing in English". Literature and Medicine. 13 (2): 284–305. doi:10.1353/lm.2010.0003. PMID 7823633.
  54. ^ "The Johns Hopkins University Press".
  55. ^ Lifelines, 2011-2012, A Literary & Art Journal from The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
  56. ^ "Fiction writers with medical qualifications". January 2008. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008.


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