Secret Scotlands: Scott and Stevenson Dissect the Doctors

Date(s) - 16/10/2008
9:00 am


Professor Caroline McCracken-Flesher, University of Wyoming

A public lecture sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The Burke and Hare body-snatching scandal of 1828 needed to be told–Edinburgh wanted to know, understand, and set aside its horrors. But Burke’s death and his subsequent dissection didn’t explain anything, and Doctor Knox wouldn’t give his version of events. Walter Scott, the great national storyteller, refused to heal society’s wounds by stitching them up in story. Robert Louis Stevenson, however, had no qualms about telling the tale. Stevenson was thoroughly familiar with modern medicine, having been subject to most of it.  In ‘The Body Snatcher’, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson dissects the doctors and shows the relationship between nineteenth-century medical practices and Gothic stories.   Caroline McCracken-Flesher looks at the dark side of Edinburgh’s scientific history and promises a gruesome talk accompanied by some suitably gory illustrations.