The nineteenth century saw a host of new medical innovations which are held by many people today to be not only modern but essential such as greater sanitation, anaesthesia, widespread inoculation, the first routine surgical operations, the discovery of microbial infection or the acceptance of germ theory, and the rise of a professional pragmatic tradition of medical care for all. All of these innovations contributed to the increased life expectancies of Europeans by the end of the century. Of course the century also saw many dubious movements such as therapeutic nihilism and the often aggressive struggles for professional and personal authority leading, for example, to the marginalization of so-called non-qualified practitioners such as midwives. — John van Wyhe

Further reading

Bynum, W. F. Science and the Practice of Medicine in the Nineteenth Century 1994.

Cunningham, Andrew, & Perry Williams eds.The Laboratory Revolution in Medicine. 1992.

Desmond, Adrian. The politics of evolution: morphology, medicine, and reform in radical London, 1989.

Digby, Anne. Making a Medical Living: Doctors and Patients in the English Market for Medicine, 1720-1911. Cambridge, 1994.

Digby, Anne. The Evolution of British General Practice, 1850-1948, 1999.

Freidson, Eliot . Profession of Medicine, 1970.

Bruce Haley. The Health Body and Victorian Culture 1978.

Hardy, Anne. Epidemic Streets 1994.

Jones, Colin, and Roy Porter eds.Reassessing Foucault: Power, Medicine, and the Body 1994.

Lawrence, Christopher. Medicine in the Making of Modern Britain, 1700-1920. 1994.

Loudon, Irving. Medical Care and the General Practitioner 1750-1850 (1986).

Mitchell, Sally. "Medical Practice" in Victorian Britain: an Encyclopedia.

Newman, Charles. The Evolution of Medical Education in the Nineteenth Century (1957).

Petersen, Alan, and Robin Bunton eds. Foucault, Health and Medicine 1997.

Peterson, M. Jeanne. The Medical Profession in Mid-Victorian London (1978).

Scull, Andrew. The Most Solitary of Afflictions 1993.

Waddington, Keir. Charity and the London Hospitals 2000.

Worboys, Michael. Spreading Germs 2000.

Wear, Andrew, ed. Medicine in Society 1992.

Winter, Alison Mesmerized: powers of mind in Victorian Britain, 1998

Witz, Ann. Professions and Patriarchy 1992.

On the internet

Victorian medicine, by Henry Hattemer — a thorough and up-to-date resource.

Delta Omega Classics Primary texts in Acrobat format.

History of Anaesthesia Museum (Oxford University)


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Last modified 3 November 2009