A novel approach to the history of medicine: a look at the relationship between fiction and medical history

This paper examines the recent upsurge in novels concerned with the history of medicine. It selects a range of different novels and asks how they relate to the work of the professional medical historian. Do these novels stimulate interest in the history of medicine or do they distort historical events? It is concluded that although writers often take liberties with the historical record, on balance, their work helps us to engage with the past and is likely to inspire readers to find out more about the history of medicine.

The secular and the supernatural: madness and psychiatry in the short stories of Muriel Spark

Edinburgh-born Muriel Spark is one of modern Scotland’s greatest writers. Examination of her work reveals that the subjects of madness and psychiatry are recurrent themes in her writing. She herself had a mental breakdown when she was a young woman and she took an interest in the world of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. In her short stories, Spark approaches the subject of madness in a variety of ways: she relates it to the supernatural; to writing fiction; and to religion. She frequently juxtaposes secular and supernatural explanations of mental disturbance.