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J Med Biogr. 2008 Feb;16(1):57-62. doi: 10.1258/jmb.2006.006075.

Francis Thompson (1859-1907): a medical truant and his troubled heart.

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Francis Thompson was born in 1859 in Preston and grew to manhood in Ashton-under-Lyne in Lancashire. After six years registered as a medical student at Owens College, Manchester, he set off for London to retrace the footsteps of Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859). His early experience in London followed closely that of the earlier English Opium Eater until he was rescued by Wilfrid Meynell (1852-1948) who recognized his nascent literary flair. Thompson's poetry earned him respect and reputation and his prose brought him a reasonable income, but he never weaned himself from laudanum and he died of tuberculosis in 1907. Not every truant is honoured by a lapidary inscription in his alma mater, even though he may be overlooked in an arbitrary census.

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