This collection contains all the stories in Arthur Conan Doyle's Round the Red Lamp, six additional medical tales (three of which are from the Sherlock Holmes oeuvre), and the published version of "The Romance of Medicine" (1910), an awards ceremony address to the medical students at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School.

Round the Red Lamp (see annotation in this database) received almost universally negative reviews when it was published in 1894. They deplored the fact that Conan Doyle wrote about such "nauseating" and "ghastly" topics. All but one of the stories deal with doctors, disease, or medical practice. (The exception is a gothic tale that has a medical student as its hero.)

For example, "Behind the Times" contrasts the behavior of old fashioned humanistic physicians with that of modern scientifically-oriented physicians; "The Doctors of Hoyland" conveys a very positive image of women physicians; "His First Operation" depicts a first-year medical student fainting in the operating room; and "A False Start" presents a humorous account of Conan Doyle's difficulties in starting his own medical practice.

The three Sherlock Holmes stories are "The Dying Detective" (1913), "The Creeping Man," (1923) and "The Blanched Soldier" (1926). "The Romance of Medicine" is an inspirational essay on professionalism and medical history, somewhat similar in tone to, and contemporaneous with, the essays of William Osler.


This volume is clearly designed for discussion and teaching. Each story is followed by a commentary, in which the two editors explore medical topics or issues the story raises and relate them to contemporary concerns. Likewise, the editors have provided a detailed set of endnotes for each story. These explain names and concepts that may be unfamiliar to the modern reader. For those stories that include descriptions of illness, such as "The Dying Detective" and "The Blanched Soldier," the notes provide differential diagnoses.

At least six of these stories could be considered for inclusion in medical school courses on humanism, professionalism, and physician-patient interaction: "Behind the Times," "The Doctors of Hoyland," A Straggler of '15," "The Third Generation," "The Curse of Eve," and "Sweethearts."


Robert E. Krieger

Place Published

Malabar, Fla.




Alvin E. Rodin & Jack D. Key

Page Count