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Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018
Lindsey Fitzharris received her doctorate in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology at the University of Oxford and was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Wellcome Institute. She is the creator of the popular website The Chirurgeon's Apprentice, and she writes and presents the YouTube series Under the Knife. She has written for the Guardian, the Lancet, the New Scientist, Penthouse, the Huffington Post and Medium, and appeared on PBS, Channel 4 UK, BBC and National Geographic.
On The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine:
I like to say that The Butchering Art is a love story between science and medicine. It details the first time that a scientific principle (germ theory) was applied to medical practice through the development of antisepsis. Joseph Lister was a visionary surgeon who persevered with his work despite a prevailing climate of scepticism and denial. In this way, his story is more relevant today than it has ever been.
My intention when I set out to write The Butchering Art was to ensure that Lister’s name would become just as familiar to people as those of Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Marie Curie. Lister revolutionised surgery and made safe procedures that had been perilous for centuries. I’m so pleased to see his achievements garnering the attention they deserve. I’m also humbled to find myself in such talented company as a shortlisted author for the Wolfson Prize, especially as this will further help shine a light on Lister’s legacy.
Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018 "In the 1840s, operative surgery was a filthy business fraught with hidden dangers. It was to be avoided at all costs”. So states the author near the opening of this grippingly grisly work. But despite (or perhaps because of) these risk-riddled conditions, medical voyeurism became a sought-after source of Victorian entertainment. This was an era in which pus was seen as a sign of healing; when surgeons rarely washed their instruments or hands; an era in which theatres of death rang with the screams of patients and the gasps of shocked spectators. It was among such a medico-cultural environment that a young surgeon named Joseph Lister voiced the audacious idea that germs were the cause of infection, and they could be treated. Dripping with gory detail, drama and reverence for a medical visionary, this is absolutely fascinating stuff - a lively, enlightening journey through social and medical history, a brilliant biography of an ingenious doctor whose invention of antisepsis was nothing short of revolutionary. ~ Joanne Owen