Physicians Practicing Other Occupations, Especially Literature

Green, Jack Peter

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

  • Date of entry: Dec-27-2001


The author provides a historical review of physicians who became famous practicing a profession other than medicine. Most of the article focuses on physician-writers, beginning with Francois Rabelais, and including both well-known and obscure figures. There are extensive comments on Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Gottfried Benn, Friedrich Wolf, Mikhail Bulgakov, Oliver Goldsmith, Anton P. Chekhov, Arthur Schnitzler, W. (William) Somerset Maugham, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Carlos Williams, among others. The most complete discussion (5 pages) is devoted to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


This article is a cornucopia of names of physician-writers and facts about them. Since many of them are relatively little-known, the article provides entry into the work of some authors with whom one might not be familiar. For example, Mikhail Bulgakov, whose novels have only recently been widely read in the West, also wrote a number of stories and sketches based on his medical practice in 1916-1918. Thus, the list of references (166 citations) is an excellent resource. Unfortunately, the essay itself is awkwardly written and poorly organized.

Primary Source

The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine 60:132 (1993)

Place Published

New York