This short narrative is told in the first person, the person of the quack. The tale opens with the narrator in the public hospital ward, suffering from what his doctors say is Addison's disease, composing the tale of his adventures which makes up the bulk of the work. The narrator tells us about his training as a physician and his first practice, which was sufficiently non-lucrative that he determines to alter his career direction.

He moves through a series of increasingly seamy scams in search of quick and easy money--including claiming to be a homeopathic physician, then an expert in vegetable remedies and "electromagnetic" treatment, falling through a multitude of suspect activities culminating in his setting up shop as a spiritualist. His shady career is cut short by his illness, from which he abruptly dies, thus ending the narrative.


This is considered by many to be one of Mitchell's better works. It is cleverly constructed and written with a keen sense of satire which fits the muckraking subgenre with which it has been associated by some critics. From the standpoint of the history of medicine, it contains a nice addition of quaint formulations of the remedies foisted upon a gullible and unwitting public by charlatans posing as healers.


First published: 1900

Primary Source

The Autobiography of a Quack, and The Case of George Dedlow



Place Published

Upper Sandy River, N.J.



Page Count