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Clin Med (Lond). 2003 Jul-Aug;3(4):368-72.

Samuel Johnson: his ills, his pills and his physician friends.

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Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was one of the greatest men of his age. Although famed for his writings, especially his Dictionary and his folio on Shakespeare, he is remembered for his tavern conversations, his literary clubs and the great biography of his life by Boswell. He always enjoyed having physicians as his friends, and took a great interest in all branches of medicine. He would advise and prescribe for friends who regularly consulted him, and he was not unhappy when mistaken for a physician. Particularly in his last years he had need of physicians for his own care, but held his own distinct views on whether to take their medicines and in what dose--usually much higher than prescribed. His many illnesses and his knowledge and views on medicine make him of continuing interest to physicians and give us insight into medical practice and beliefs in the Age of Enlightenment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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