This article is concerned with the relationship between life writing and the construction of nineteenth-century medical identities. It explores those features of medical lives—in obituary, biography and autobiography—that were valorised within the evolving medical profession and shaped medical education. The primary illustration is Dr Matthew Baillie (1761–1823), celebrated morbid anatomist and physician, and his network of medical friends and kin. The article explores the rise of medical life writing, the themes of medical life writing and the role of families in the ‘construction’ of idealised medical lives. The importance of character, relationships with money, morality, family life and physical appearance and dress (indicated through portraiture) are explored. The article concludes that the sustained interest in Baillie was linked to changes in the medical profession and to a long-standing medical and popular conversation on the proper conduct of relationships between doctors and their patients.
- life writing