During the eighteenth century medicine became an autonomous discipline and practice. Surgeons justified themselves as skilled practitioners and set themselves apart from the unspecialized, hack 'barber-surgeons' of early modernity. Medical artists ...
proved themselves not merely mechanical reproducers but skilled masters of an identifiable and valuable genre. Occurring alongside these medical developments was the professionalization of the role of the writer, and the accompanying explosion in print culture and popular readership. The essays in this collection focus on a range of medical narratives: Daniel Defoe and Richard Mead on plague; John Brown's medicine as social paradigm; public perceptions of the King's mental illness. Private narratives cross over into the public sphere, blurring the line between doctor and patient as they share language and experience, as in Frances Burney's account of the mastectomy she underwent without anaesthetic, while Ignatius Sancho's letters suggest how the borders between enslavement and liberation, illness and health, can be contested.