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Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

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Funded by:  AHRC

Main contact:  Dr D E Shuttleton

Start date:  2011

End date:  2014

Subject area:
English Literature - School of Critical Studies, College of Arts

This project will create a publicly accessible, online scholarly edition of one of the most important archives of eighteenth-century medical "consultation letters".

William Cullen's private consultations survive as a remarkable archive of several thousand letters. These include requests for advice from patients or close family members and referrals from attendant physicians and surgeons. Cullen retained his responses, initially as written transcripts then, from 1781, as duplicates made on a "mechanical copier" invented by James Watt. These exchanges with correspondents throughout Britain and abroad include some sustained autobiographical "illness narratives" and intra-physician exchanges. They provide a rich resource for gaining an historical insight into the experience of illness and the effort to cure disease.