In the nineteenth century, science and medicine grew ever closer as advances in scientific knowledge were applied to medical practice with increasing success. The modernization of medicine proved, in turn, a resource for writers who found in the confluence of science and medicine rich material for wider reflection. In 1885, the physician C. S. Hall flattered readers of British Medical Journal by describing the convergence of science and medicine in grandly progressive terms:

The open book of nature is ever before us, and we gladly welcome all science, all knowledge, and all truth. It is fortunate for mankind that the science of health and healing is gradually becoming more complete, and more potent for good. Medical men are thus enabled to teach and to carry out the laws of health. Thus do they help to make men happier, because they assist to make them healthier. Nor do they limit themselves to these, their especial duties; but it may honestly, and truthfully, be said, that they are ready to join in every effort for the advancement of science, the comfort and happiness of those about them, and the good of mankind at large. ["Abstract of an Address on The Aspect of Medicine as a Profession, and on the Training and Work of Medical Men." British Medical Journal (July 18, 1885): 94.]

The following reviews look at books that examine the extent to which that convergence actually occurred. — Diane Greco Josefowicz


Dawson, Gowan, and Bernard Lightman, eds. Victorian Science and Literature: Part 1 (Vols. 1-4) London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011. [Review by Christine Ferguson]

Craton, Lillian. The Victorian Freak Show: The Significance of Disability and Physical Differences in 19th-Century Fiction. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2009. [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz]

Tondre, Michael. The Physics of Possibility: Victorian Fiction, Science, and Gender. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2018. [Review by Diane Josefowicz]

Archaeology and Egyptology

Gange, David. Dialogues with the Dead: Egyptology in British Culture and Religion, 1822-1922. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz]


Chang, Elizabeth Hope. Novel Cultivations: Plants in British Literature of the Global Nineteenth Century. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2019 [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz]

Darwin, Wallace and Evolution

The Darwin Exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, 14 November 2008-19 April 2009 [Review by Antoine Capet].

Holmes, John. Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013 [Review by Jacqueline Banerjee].

Levine, George. Darwin the Writer. Oxford, 2011 [Review by Jonathan Smith].

De Paolo, Charles. The Ethnography of Charles Darwin: A Study of His Writings on Aboriginal Peoples. Jefferson, North Carolina, and London: MacFarland, 2010 [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz].

Elshakry, Marwa. Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013 [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz].

Schmitt, Cannon. Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009 [Review by George Levine].

Smith, Charles H., James T. Costa, and David Collard, eds. An Alfred Russel Wallace Companion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019 [Review by Jacqueline Banerjee].

Medicine & Pubic Health

Conolly, Pauline. The Water Doctor's Daughters. London: Robert Hale, 2013 [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz].

Ebenstein, Joanna. The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic. New York, NY: D. A. P./Distributed Art Publishers, 2016 [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz].

Pamboukian, Sylvia A. Doctoring the Novel: Medicine and Quackery from Shelley to Doyle. Ohio 2012 [Reviews by Joanne Eysell and Diane Greco Josefowicz].

Shifrin, Malcolm. Victorian Turkish Baths. Swindon: Historic England, 2015 [Review by Susan Guraknik].


Garratt, Peter. Victorian Empiricism: Self, Knowledge, and Reality in Ruskin, Bain, Lewes, Spencer, and George Eliot. Madison, WI and Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2010 [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz].

Tate, Gregory. The Poet's Mind: The Psychology of Victorian Poetry 1830-1870. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012 [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz].

Young, Kay. Imagining Minds: The Neuro-Aesthetics of Austen, Eliot, and Hardy. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2010 [Review by Diane Greco Josefowicz].

Last modified 15 December 2020