are medical doctors
who write creatively in fields outside their practice of medicine
. Their works include short stories
, children’s literature
, speculative fiction
, scholarly works
The following is a partial list of physician-writers by historic epoch or century in which the author was born, arranged in alphabetical order. Most have a Wikipedia entry. For those who do not, a reference to another internet site, providing biographical information, has often been added.
- Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802) British poet, grandfather of Charles Darwin
- James Grainger (1721–66) poet from a Cumberland family; friend of Dr. Johnson
- Oliver Goldsmith (1728–74) Anglo-Irish writer and poet known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766)
- Edward Jenner, FRS, (1749–1823) famous for introducing the smallpox vaccine; also a poet of some note
- Johann Heinrich Jung (1740–1817) German author, best known by his assumed name, Heinrich Stillin; friend of Goethe
- John Keats (1795–1821) one of the principal poets of the English Romantic movement who influenced poets such as Alfred Tennyson immensely
- Justinus Andreas Christian Kerner (1786–1862) German poet who, along with Ludwig Uhland, established the Swabian group of Romantic poets; some of his poems were set to music by Robert Schumann
- Jean-Paul Marat (1743–93) Swiss-born French philosopher, political theorist and scientist best known as a radical journalist and politician from the French Revolution; stabbed to death in his bathtub by the Girondin sympathizer Charlotte Corday and memorialized in Jacques-Louis David's 1793 painting, The Death of Marat
- John Kearsley Mitchell (1798–1858) American writer, father of S. Weir Mitchell
- David Macbeth Moir (1798–1851) Scottish writer; a contributor of both prose and verse to the magazines, and particularly, with the signature of Delta, to Blackwood's Magazine
- Mungo Park (1771–1806) Scottish explorer of the African continent
- Peter Mark Roget (1779–1869) creator of the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Roget's Thesaurus)
- Albrecht von Haller (1708–77) Swiss anatomist, physiologist, naturalist and poet
- Tobias Smollett (1721–71) Scottish author, known for his picaresque novels, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748); best known work is The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker
- Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805) German writer, poet, essayist and dramatist; friend of Goethe
- Carl Ludwig Emil Aarestrup (1800–56) Danish erotic poet
- Mariano Azuela (1873-1952) Mexican physician in Pancho Villa's army; in 1949 he received a National Prize for Literature
- Doris Bell Ball (1897-1987) wrote under the pseudonym "Josephine Bell"; a British detective novelist who wrote more than forty books; a founding member of the Crime Writers Association
- Pío Baroja y Nessi (1872-1956) Spanish (Basque) writer, one of the key novelists of the Generation of '98; admired by Hemingway
- Nérée Beauchemin (1850–1931) Québécois poet who attempted to produce a national literature
- Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803 –1849) English poet and dramatist whose central theme was death
- Gottfried Benn (1886–1956) German essayist, novelist and expressionist poet
- Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński (1874–1941) Polish gynecologist, journalist, poet, most famous as the translator of over 100 French literary classics.
- Robert Seymour Bridges, OM, (1844–1930) English poet, the only physician to hold the honour of poet laureate (1913)
- Georg Büchner (1813–1837) German dramatist and writer of prose
- Ludwig Büchner (1824–1899) German philosopher and physiologist who became one of the exponents of 19th century scientific materialism
- Mikhail Bulgakov (1891–1940) Russian novelist and playwright; author of The Master and Margarita
- Hans Carossa (1878–1956) German novelist and poet, known mostly for his autobiographical novels, and his innere Emigration (inner emigration) during the Nazi era.
- Louis-Ferdinand Céline pen name of French writer Louis-Ferdinand Destouches (1894–1961) developed a new style of writing that modernized both French and World literature
- Anton Chekhov (1860–1904) celebrated Russian short-story writer and playwright
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) British author of Sherlock Holmes fame
- A.J. Cronin (1896–1981) Scottish novelist and essayist, creator of Dr Finlay; author of The Citadel
- Géza Csáth (né József Brenner) (1887–1919) Hungarian writer, playwright, musician, music critic and psychiatrist
- Alfred de Musset (1810–1857) French playwright, discovered sign of syphilitic aortitis
- Warwick Deeping (1877–1950) prolific English novelist and short story writer; most famous novel is Sorrell and Son (1925)
- Alfred Döblin (1878–1957) German expressionist novelist, best known for Berlin Alexanderplatz
- William Henry Drummond (1854-1907) Irish-Canadian poet of the habitant
- Georges Duhamel (1884-1966) French author who, in 1920, published Confession de minuit featuring the anti-hero Salavin; in 1935, elected member of Académie française
- Havelock Ellis (1859–1940) British writer and poet, author of The Psychology of Sex
- Rudolph Fisher (1897-1934) African-American writer who was an active participant in the Harlem Renaissance, primarily as a novelist, but also as a musician
- R. Austin Freeman (1862-1943) British writer of detective stories, most featuring the medico-legal forensic investigator Dr Thorndyke. He invented the inverted detective story
- Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878-1957) Irish ear surgeon, one of the most prominent Dublin wits and best known as the inspiration for Buck Mulligan in James Joyce's novel Ulysses
- Enrique González Martínez (1871-1952 ) Mexican poet and diplomat, considered to be primarily Modernist in nature, with elements of French symbolism
- Thomas Gordon Hake (1809-1895) English poet, intimate member of the circle of friends and followers of Rossetti
- William Alexander Hammond (1828–1900) pioneering American neurologist and the Surgeon General of the United States Army during the American Civil War
- Henry Head (1861-1940) English neurologist who conducted pioneering studies on the somatosensory system and sensory nerves. Much of this work was conducted on himself, in collaboration with the psychiatrist W. H. R. Rivers
- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809 –1894) one of the best regarded American poets of the 19th century; helped found the literary magazine The Atlantic Monthly, his collected essays published as The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, highly popular in its day
- David H. Keller (1880–1966) (most often published as David H. Keller, MD, but also known by the pseudonyms Monk Smith, Matthew Smith, Amy Worth, Henry Cecil, Cecilia Henry and Jacobus Hubelaire); a writer for pulp magazines in the mid-twentieth century who wrote science fiction, fantasy and horror
- Geoffrey Keynes (1887–1982) English biographer, surgeon, scholar and bibliophile; younger brother of the economist John Maynard Keynes
- Janusz Korczak (1879-1942) Polish-Jewish pediatrician, hero of the Warsaw ghetto and author of children’s books
- F. Reinhold Kreutzwald (1803-1882) Estonian folklorist and poet who compiled the national epic poem Kalevipoeg
- Vincas Kudirka (1858-1899) Lithuanian poet and the author of both the music and lyrics of the Lithuanian National Anthem, Tautiška giesmė
- František Langer (1888 –1965) Czech author, script writer, essayist, literary critic and publicist
- C. Louis Leipoldt (1880—1947) South African poet who wrote novels, plays, stories, children's books, cookbooks and a travel diary; numbered amongst the greatest of the Afrikaner poets
- Jorge de Lima (1895-1953) Brazilian politician, poet, and writer of Alagoas
- David Livingstone (1813–1873) Scottish medical missionary, explorer of Africa, travel writer
- Paolo Mantegazza (1831–1910) Italian writer, wrote the science fiction book, L'Anno 3000
- W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965) celebrated British novelist and short story writer; wrote Of Human Bondage
- John McCrae (1872 –1918) Canadian poet, artist and soldier during World War I and a surgeon during the battle of Ypres; best known for writing the famous war memorial poem In Flanders Fields
- S. Weir Mitchell (1829–1914) prominent American neurologist who wrote short stories, poetry and more than a dozen novels (Hugh Wynne, Dr North, Characteristics), including the celebrated fictional story The Strange Case of George Dedlow.
- Mori Ōgai or Mori Rintaro (1862–1922) Japanese translator, novelist and poet; The Wild Geese is considered his major work; began as a writer of partly autobiographical fiction with strong overtones of German Romantic writings; midway in his career he shifted to historical novels
- Axel Martin Fredrik Munthe (1857-1949) Swedish psychiatrist, best known as the author of The Story of San Michele (1929), an autobiographical account of his work and life
- Max Simon Nordau (1849-1923) born Simon Maximilian Südfeld was a Hungarian Zionist leader, author, and social critic; co-founder of the World Zionist Organization
- Sir William Osler(1849–1919) Canadian-born; one of the greatest icons of medicine and described as the Father of Modern Medicine
- Philippe Panneton (pseudonym Ringuet) (1895–1960) Canadian academic, diplomat and writer
- Wilder Graves Penfield (1891–1976) a neurosurgeon who worked at McGill University and pioneered neurosurgical procedures for epilepsy; also wrote fiction
- Bozo Pericić (1865-1947) Croatian author of travel books, reviews on famous writers and a translation of Hamlet
- Jose P. Rizal (1861–96) Filipino polymath, nationalist and the most prominent advocate for reforms in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era; a polyglot conversant in at least ten languages, he was a prolific poet, essayist, diarist, correspondent, and novelist whose most famous works were his two novels, Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo
- Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932) a "Renaissance man"; demonstrated the life cycle of the malarial parasite; made contributions in pure and epidemiologic mathematics, and wrote novels, plays and poetry
- Mokichi Saitō (1882-1953) Japanese poet of the Taishō period, a member of Araragi school; by the time of his death, he had written 17 collections of poems and 17,907 poems; family doctor of author Ryūnosuke Akutagawa and assisted in his suicide; novelist Kita Morio is his second son
- Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) Jewish-Austrian writer and dramatist. Stanley Kubrick's 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut is based on Schnitzler's Rhapsod; Schnitzler's La Ronde also spawned film versions.
- Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) German theologian, philosopher, organist, musicologist and medical missionary to Africa
- Victor Segalen (1878-1919) French ethnographer, archeologist, writer, poet, explorer, art-theorist, linguist, literary critic
- Henry Thompson, (1820–1904) indefatigable British polymath, scholar and novelist
- John Todhunter (1839-1916) Irish poet and playwright
- Saul Tschernichowsky (1875-1943) Jewish-Russian military physician during the First World War; decorated by the Russian government; nomadic life spent writing, translating, editing
- Adolfo Valderrama (1834-1902) Chilean man of letters and senator
- Vladislav Vančura (1891–1942) Czech author, scriptwriter and film director
- Frederik Willem van Eeden (1829 –1901) started a literary periodical, founded an agricultural colony, translated Rabindranath Tagore's work into Dutch, and wrote social and literary treatises in addition to fiction, poetry, and plays
- Ernst Weiß (1882-1940) Jewish-Austrian writer, friend of Kafka, died by his own hand in Paris in 1940 as the Nazis entered the city
- William Carlos Williams (1883–1963) American poet and essayist; in 1963 he won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for poetry
- Charlotte Wolff (1897-1986) Jewish-German psychoanalyst, she is one of the few scientifically-trained people to have seriously investigated the diagnostic significance of the hand; Studies in Handreading was published in 1936
- Francis Brett Young (1884–1954) English novelist and poet
- Kōbō Abe (1924-1993) Japanese author known for his surrealistic, Kafkaesque style
- Dannie Abse (born 1923) Welch chest specialist who is also one of Europe’s most prolific doctor-poets
- Vassily Aksyonov (born 1932) Russian novelist who was forced to emigrate from the Soviet Union in 1980
- António Lobo Antunes (born 1942) psychiatrist and leading Portuguese writer
- Janet Asimov (born 1926, Janet Opal Jeppson) American science fiction author and psychoanalyst, wife of Isaac Asimov
- Arnie Baker (born 1953 in Montreal, Canada) is a bicycle coach, racer and writer
- Iain Bamforth (born 1959) a doctor and scientific translator from Glasgow who lives and works in Strasbourg
- Christiaan Neethling Barnard (1922 –2001) South African cardiac surgeon, famous for performing the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant
- Martin Bax (born 1933) British founder and editor of the literary journal Ambit (1959); a developmental paediatrician and editor of the journal, Developmental and Child Neurology. He is also author of the cult novel, The Hospital Ship.
- Eric Berne (1910–70) psychiatrist who created transactional analysis; author of Games People Play.
- Ben Byron, UK author of two medical suspense novels
- Rafael Campo (born 1964) director of the Harvard Program in the Medical Humanities; his practice serves mostly Latinos, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people, and people with HIV infection
- Paul Carson (born 1949) from Dublin; editor of Irish Doctor magazine; has published several novels which have been best-sellers in Ireland and internationally
- Ron Charach (born 1951) Canadian poet and practicing psychiatrist
- William T. Choctaw (born 1947) American author of Avoiding Medical Malpractice: A Physician's Guide to the Law (Springer Publishing)
- Deepak Chopra (born 1946) Indian writer on spirituality and mind-body medicine
- Peter Clement, American novelist who has written the Earl Garnet medical thriller series, Lethal Practice, Death Rounds, and The Procedure; tries to ‘put the reader inside the head of an ER physician’
- Don Coldsmith (born 1926) American author of primarily Western fiction; past president of Western Writers of America
- Robert Coles (born 1929) American author, child psychiatrist, and professor at Harvard University
- Alex Comfort (1920–2000) British writer and poet, author of The Joy of Sex and a science fiction novel Tetrarch
- Robin Cook (born 1940) American author of bestselling novels including Coma; nearly all of his books deal with hot medical issues of the day, from bioterrorism to organ donation
- Jack Coulehan (born 1943) Director, Institute for Medicine in Contemporary Society, Stony Brook, New York
- Michael Crichton (born 1942) American author of Jurassic Park
- A.J. Cronin (1896-1981) Scottish doctor who practiced medicine for over a decade before turning to writing. His works include The Stars Look Down, The Citadel, and The Keys of the Kingdom. The Citadel (1937) brought much-needed attention to inequities in the British medical system at the time and is credited with prompting the creation of the NHS.
- Colin Douglas (born 1945) pseudonym of a Scottish novelist, Colin Thomas Currie; frequent British Medical Journal contributor
- Alice Dwyer-Joyce (1913- 1986) Irish novelist who wrote over thirty novels; many in the gothic/romantic genre
- R. Sarif Easmon (born 1930) well-known Sierra Leone playwright who practices medicine in Freetown
- Valgarður Egilsson (born 1940) Icelandic author; member of the Icelandic Writers’ Union
- Nawal El Saadawi (born 1931) Egyptian feminist who has written many books on the subject of women in Islam
- Jacques Ferron (1921 - 1985) Canadian author who founded the Parti Rhinocéros, which he described as "an intellectual guerrilla party"
- Michael Fitzwilliam, pseudonym of J.B. Lyons (born 1922), professor of medical history at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, who wrote fiction in the 1960s
- Viktor Frankl (1905–1997) Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, author of Man's Search for Meaning
- Graeme Garden (born 1943) British comedy writer and performer from Scotland, actor, television director, and author, he became well-known as a member of The Goodies comedy trio; author of a novel The Seventh Man
- Atul Gawande (b. 1965) general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and is The New Yorker medical writer
- Tess Gerritsen (born 1953) American writer of gothic thrillers with a medical theme
- Peter Goldsworthy (1951) Australian writer who has won many awards for his short stories, poetry, novels, and opera libretti
- Richard Gordon, pen name of Gordon Ostlere (born 1921) English author of novels, screenplays for film and television and accounts of popular history; most famous for comic novels on a medical theme starting with Doctor in the House, and their film, television and stage adaptations; The Alarming History of Medicine was published in 1993 followed by The Alarming History of Sex
- John Grant (born 1933) English author who writes under the pen name Jonathan Gash. He is the author of the Lovejoy series of novels
- Lars Johan Wictor Gyllensten (1921 –2006) Swedish author and physician, and a member of the Swedish Academy
- James Ene Henshaw (1924-2007) one of the pioneering dramatists in Nigeria, he was also one of the first to be published outside West Africa
- Miroslav Holub (1923-1998) Czech poet, heavily influenced by his experiences as an immunologist, wrote many poems using his scientific knowledge to poetic effect
- H. Richard Hornberger (1924 –1997) American writer and surgeon who wrote under the pseudonym Richard Hooker. His most famous work was MASH (1968)
- Wil Huygen (born 1923) Dutch author and painter, best known for the picture books on gnomes
- Yusuf Idris, also Yusif Idris (1927–91) Egyptian writer of plays, short stories, and novels who wrote realistic stories about ordinary and poor people. Many of his works are in the Egyptian vernacular, and he was considered a master of the short story
- P. C. Jersild (born 1935) Swedish writer, best-known for Barnens ö (The Island of the Children) filmed in 1980 by Kay Pollak
- James Kahn (born 1947) American writer, best known for his novelization of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Poltergeist and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He has also written for well-known TV shows such as Melrose Place, Star Trek: The Next Generation, St. Elsewhere and E/R
- Christopher Kasparek (born 1945), Scottish-born writer of Polish descent who has edited and translated works by Ignacy Krasicki, Bolesław Prus, Florian Znaniecki, Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Marian Rejewski and Władysław Kozaczuk, as well as the Constitution of May 3, 1791.
- Harold L. Klawans (1937–1998) wrote Chekhov's Lie, about the challenges of combining writing with the medical life
- Bernard Knight, CBE (born 1931) has written about thirty books, including contemporary crime fiction, historical novels about Wales, biography, non-fiction popular works on forensic medicine, twelve medico-legal textbooks and the current highly-acclaimed Crowner John Mysteries series of 12th-century historical mysteries
- Siegfried Kra (born 1930 in Poland) studied in Switzerland; hosted a National Public Radio series on heart disease and wrote several books on medicine for the lay public which are hard to classify as they are a blend of fiction and nonfiction, like some works of his Yale surgical colleague Richard Selzer
- Dimitris P. Kraniotis (born 1966) Greek poet
- Ronald David Laing (1927–89) Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness and particularly the experience of psychosis
- Stanisław Lem (1921 –2006) Polish science fiction, philosophical and satirical writer whose books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 27 million copies
- Carlo Levi (1902–1975) Italian novelist and writer; author of Christ Stopped at Eboli
- Serge Liberman (born 1942) Jewish-Russian author of short stories including, On Firmer Shores, A Universe of Clowns, and Voices from the Corner; has lived in Australia since 1951
- Edward Lowbury (1913- 2007) English bacteriologist and pathologist who was also a published poet and wrote criticism and biography
- John Edward Mack (1929 –2004) Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, considered to be a leading authority on the spiritual or transformational effects of alleged alien encounter experiences
- Anne Macleod (born 1951) from Aberdeen, a dermatologist, poet and novelist
- Martin MacIntyre (born 1965) from Glasgow; works in both Gaelic and English
- Giovanni Magri (born 1937) Italian writer whose recent books include Notte lungo i Navigli - dieci storie milanesi (2003), I luoghi di una vita (2004), and Viaggio senza ritorno - tre racconti" (2006)
- Adeline Yen Mah (born 1937) Chinese-American author
- J. Nozipo Maraire (born 1966) Zimbabwean writer; she is the author of Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter
- Felix Marti-Ibanez (1912-1972) Spanish author and minister for the Republic during the Spanish Civil War; exiled during Franco’s era, he became a United States citizen and published the popular MD magazine in 1950s
- Luis Martin Santos (1924-1964) Spanish novelist who tried to develop a psychology of the whole person
- Alexander McCall Smith, CBE, FRSE, (born 1948) Rhodesian-born Scottish writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland; writer of fiction, most widely known as the creator of the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series
- Keith McCarthy (born 1960) British author of crime novels
- Jed Mercurio (born 1966) British writer who also writes under the name John MacUre; created the television series Cardiac Arrest and Bodies; has also written and directed for The Grimleys
- George Milkomane (1903- 1996) Russian author; wrote under a variety of pseudonyms (e.g.George Sava) author of over one hundred and twenty books
- Sir Jonathan Wolfe Miller, CBE (born 1934) British theatre and opera director, author, television presenter, humorist and sculptor
- Amitabh Mitra (born 1955) extensively published on the Internet and in print, acclaimed as one of the most popular Indian poets writing in English today
- Taghi Modarressi (1931-1997) Iranian novelist who wrote in English and Persian; was married to the writer Ann Tyler
- David Monger (1908-1972) first president of the Guild of Welsh Playwrights; wrote in both English and Welsh, and contributed several radio plays to the BBC
- Merrill Moore (1903-1957) contributor to The Fugitive, became a member of the great literary circle that started the "modern Southern literature," the Southern Agrarian Movement; most prolific sonneteer ever, he wrote over forty thousand sonnets
- Taslima Nasrin (also spelled Taslima Nasreen and popularly referred to as 'Taslima', born 1962) Bengali Bangladeshi author and feminist who writes about the treatment of women in Islam; lives in exile in India and has received death threats from fundamentalists
- László Németh (1901-75) from Hungary made his literary debut in Nyugat with a closely observed portrait of a peasant woman (Mrs Horváth Dies, 1925); wrote and edited his own periodical, Witness (1932-36)
- Erlick Nelson: first novel was GermLine; also published medical thriller, The Xeno Solution (which covers xenotransplantation)
- Josef Nesvadba (1926–2005) Czech science fiction writer, the best known from the 1960s generation; pioneer of group psychotherapy in Czechoslovakia
- António Agostinho Neto (1922 –1979), first President of Angola (1975–1979), leader of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and celebrated poet
- Abioseh Nicol (Davidson Nicol) (1924–1994) Sierra Leonean academic, diplomat, writer and poet
- Alan E. Nourse (1928–1992) American science fiction author
- Sherwin Nuland (born 1930) American author who teaches bioethics and medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine
- Avodah Komito Offit (born 1931) practiced psychiatry in New York City; she has been described as "the Montaigne of human sexuality"
- Ferdie Pacheco (born 1927) prolific author and painter, nicknamed "The Fight Doctor"; personal physician of Muhammed Ali
- Michael Stephen Palmer (born 1942) author of 13 novels, often called the Medical thrillers series
- M. Scott Peck (1936–2005) American psychiatrist whose The Road Less Traveled, sold more than seven million copies and was on the New York Times best seller list for over six year
- Walker Percy (1916–1990) American Southern author whose interests included philosophy and semiotics
- Lenrie Leopold Wilfred Peters (born 1932) Gambian novelist and poet
- Steve Pieczenik (born 1943) is author of psycho-political thrillers and the co-creator of the best-selling Tom Clancy's Op-Center and Tom Clancy's Net Force paperback series
- Bill Pomidor: author of a series of thrillers featuring husband and wife medical detectives
- Stephen Potts (born 1957) British author of children’s books
- João Guimarães Rosa (1908 - 1967) the greatest Brazilian novelist born in the 20th century
- Carlos Vieira Reis (born 1935) Portuguese writer who has published several novels, books of poetry and essays; current president of the World Union of Physician Writers
- Theodore Isaac Rubin (born 1923) iconoclastic psychiatrist, wrote more than twenty-five works of fiction and nonfiction; his David and Lisa was made into an acclaimed film in 1962
- Suhayl Saadi (born 1961) is an author and dramatist based in Glasgow
- Oliver Wolf Sacks (born 1933) has written popular books about his patients (e.g. The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat), the most famous of which is Awakenings, which was adapted into a film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro
- Ghulam Husayn Sa'idi (1936-1985) Iranian author whose satires became anathema to the Shah's regime; he was imprisoned, tortured, and exiled; one story, "The Rubbish Heap" was made into a film, shown in the United States as The Cycle
- Ferrol Sams (born 1922) American novelist; author of Run With The Horsemen, who draws heavily on southern storytelling tradition
- Charles Savona-Ventura (born 1955) Maltese obstetrician-gynaecologist, a prolific publisher on the Natural Sciences, particularly Geology, Herpetology and many aspects of life and history of Malta.
- Moacyr Scliar (born 1937) Jewish-Brazilian writer; most of his writing centers on issues of Jewish identity in the Diaspora and particularly on being Jewish in Brazil
- Richard Selzer (born 1928) American author of such celebrated works as Mortal Lessons, Confessions of a Knife, Letters to a Young Doctor and Taking the World in for Repairs which blur the line between case reporting and fiction
- Samuel Shem, pen-name Stephen Joseph Bergman (born 1944) wrote The House of God and Mount Misery, both fictional but close-to-real first-hand descriptions of the training of doctors
- David Shobin (born 1945) American writer of thrillers with a medical theme
- Alison Sinclair (born 1959) writes award-winning science fiction
- Frank Slaughter, pseudonym C.V. Terry (1908 - 2001) American bestselling novelist whose themes include history, the Biblical world, new findings in medical research and technology; wrote Doctor's Wives
- Benjamin Spock (1903–1988) - American pediatrician, wrote Baby and Child Care
- John Stone (born 1936) American poet, essayist, and lecturer
- Ken Strauss (born 1953) novelist who helps promote the work of other physician writers
- Han Suyin pen name of Elizabeth Comber, born Rosalie Elisabeth (born 1917), Chinese-born author of several books on modern China, novels set in East Asia, and autobiographical works; she currently resides in Lausanne and has written in English and French
- Barbara Szeffer–Marcinkowska (born in Warsaw) is a Polish maxillary and trauma surgeon and president of the Polish Union of Physician Writers (Unia Polskich Pisarzy Medyków)
- Ray Tallis: British author has published a novel, three volumes of poetry and over a dozen books on philosophy, literary theory, art and cultural criticism; in 2004 he was identified in Prospect magazine as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the United Kingdom; wrote The Enduring Significance of Parmenides: Unthinkable Thought
- Lewis Thomas (1913–1993) celebrated American essayist and poet
- Leonid Tsypkin (1926—1982) Jewish-Russian writer born in Minsk, best known for his book Summer in Baden-Baden
- Gael Turnbull (1928 - 2004) Scottish poet who was an important precursor of the British Poetry Revival
- Vaino Vahing (born 1940) former psychiatrist, one of the most famous and gifted of Estonian writers; most of his publications date from the 1970’s and ‘80’s.
- Abraham Verghese (born 1955) noted Indian-American author, born and raised in Ethiopia
- Arturo Vivante (born 1923) publishes in numerous prominent magazines, most notably in The New Yorker where he has published over 70 short stories
- Karl Edward Wagner (1945 –1994) American writer, editor and publisher of horror, science fiction, and heroic fantasy
- Phil Whitaker (born 1966) book reviewer for the New Statesman and a novelist
- Tim Willocks (born 1957) British novelist whose work usually features a central character with extensive medical knowledge (especially of drugs) and martial arts ability (Willocks is a black belt in Shotokan karate)
- F. Paul Wilson (born 1946) writes novels and short stories primarily in the science fiction and horror genres
- Irvin Yalom (born 1931) existentialist and accomplished psychotherapist; produced a number novels and also experimented with writing techniques; in Everyday Gets a Little Closer he invited a patient to co-write about the experience of therapy
- C. Dale Young (born 1969) American poet, editor and educator; edits poetry for New England Review.
Why physicians write
Physicians have a long history, dating back to Greek medicine, of literary activities. This may have its origins in mythology. Apollo was the god of both poetry and medicine. Pallas Athene was Goddess of poetry, healing and war; Brigit is the Celtic patron of poets, smiths and healers.
It is thought that through their privileged and intimate contact with those moments of greatest human drama (birth, illness, injury, suffering, disease, death) physicians are in a unique position to observe, record and create the stories that make us human. ‘The clinical gaze (has) much in common with the artist's eye.’
Robert Louis Stevenson, in his Preface to Underwoods , described this unique privilege as follows:
There are men and classes of men that stand above the common herd: the soldier, the sailor, and the shepherd not infrequently; the artist rarely; rarelier still, the clergyman; the physician almost as a rule. He is the flower (such as it is) of our civilization; and when that stage of man is done with, and only to be marvelled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little, as any in the defects of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the race. Generosity he has, such as is possible to those who practise an art, never to those who drive a trade; discretion, tested by a hundred secrets; tact, tried in a thousand embarrassments; and what are more important, Heraclean cheerfulness and courage. So that he brings air and cheer into the sick room, and often enough, though not so often as he wishes, brings healing.
A factor that may predispose some physicians to write is a superior level of intelligence
and concomitant curiosity
. The average physician has an I.Q.
Professional writers often wonder how busy doctors find the time to write. Many doctors have had to quit medical practice in order to find the time. Those who do not quit inevitably struggle with the conflict of patient responsibilities over the pull of literature.
Another question often raised is, is it right to use patients as material for literature? Doctors are sworn to medical secrecy and cannot ethically reveal confidential facts, such as names and diagnoses, of their patients. However, as with most authors, their characters are usually composites of many individuals.
In 1955 a group of physician-writers created the International Federation of Societies of Physician-Writers (FISEM). One of the founders was Dr. André Soubiran, author of Hommes en blanc (Men in White). Other founders included Italian Professors Nasi and Lombroso, Belgian Drs. Sévery and Thiriet, Swiss physicians Junod and René Kaech, and eminent French writers of the medical academy. Dr. Mirko Skoficz was a key figure at the first FISEM congress in San Remo, Italy, along with his wife, Italian film star Gina Lollobrigida.
In 1973 FISEM changed its name to UMEM—Union Mondiale des Écrivains Médécins, or World Union of Physician Writers. Its current president is Dr. Carlos Vieira Reis of Portugal. UMEM is an umbrella organization that subsumes physician-writer groups in:
- Belgium, Groupement Belge des Médecins-Écrivains
- Brazil, Sociedade Brasileira de Médicos-Escritores SOBRAMES Nationale
- Bulgaria, Club des Écrivains Médecins en Bulgarie
- France, Groupement des Ecrivains – Médecins [GEM]
- Germany, Bundesverband Deutscher Schirftstellerarzte [BDSA]
- Greece, Hellenic Society of Physician Writers
- Italy, A.M.S.I.
- Netherlands, Penaescula
- Poland, Unia Polskich Pisarzy Medyków [UPPL]
- Portugal, Sociedade Portuguesa dos Escritores Médicos [SOPEM]
- Romania, Societaea Medicilor Scriitori şi Publicişti din România
- South America, Liga Sud-Americana de Médicos-Escritores LISAME
- Spain, Asociación Española de Médicos Escritores e Artistas [AEMEA]
- Switzerland, Association Suisse des Écrivains Médecins [ASEM]
In the Anglophone world, the lead has been taken by New York University (NYU) with their encyclopedic Literature, Arts & Medicine Database (http://litmed.med.nyu.edu) and blog (http://medhum.med.nyu.edu/blog/). An associated resource is the Medical Humanities directory: http://medhum.med.nyu.edu/directory.html.
These sites were established in 1994 at the New York University School of Medicine and were:
“dedicated to providing a resource for scholars, educators, students, patients, and others who are interested in the work of medical humanities. We define the term ‘medical humanities’ broadly to include an interdisciplinary field of humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, sociology), and the arts (literature, theater, film, and visual arts) and their application to medical education and practice. The humanities and arts provide insight into the human condition, suffering, personhood, our responsibility to each other, and offer a historical perspective on medical practice. Attention to literature and the arts helps to develop and nurture skills of observation, analysis, empathy, and self-reflection -- skills that are essential for humane medical care. The social sciences help us to understand how bioscience and medicine take place within cultural and social contexts and how culture interacts with the individual experience of illness and the way medicine is practiced.”
Dr. Daniel Bryant, an American internist, has compiled an extensive list of fellow physician writers which can be assessed at http://library.med.nyu.edu/library/eresources/featuredcollections/bryant/roster.html
or at http://members.aol.com/dbryantmd/index.html?f=fs
The Johns Hopkins University Press publishes Literature and Medicine, “a journal devoted to exploring interfaces between literary and medical knowledge and understanding. Issues of illness, health, medical science, violence, and the body are examined through literary and cultural texts.”
The British Medical Association keeps an updated, though selective, list of Physician-Writers on its web site: http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/LIBDoctorWriters
- Charach R., The Naked Physician: Poems about the Lives of Patients and Physicians, Kingston, Ontario: Quarry Press; 1990.
- Dana CL. Poetry and the Doctors: A Catalogue of Poetical Works Written by Physicians. Woodstock: Elm Tree Press; 1916.
- Fischer LP. "Some French doctors as writers in the first half of the XXth century." [Article in French] Hist Sci Med. 2004 Jan-Mar;38(1):65-80. (Cites more than 50 French medical authors of this period, many novelists or literary critics)
- Gordon JD. Doctors as Men of Letters: English and American Writers of Medical Background. New York: The New York Public Library; 1964.
- Green JP. "Physicians practicing other occupations, especially literature." The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine. 1993;60:132-55.
- Hunter KM. Doctors' Stories: the Narrative Structure of Medical Knowledge. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ (1991).
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- Jones AH. "Literature and medicine: physician-poets," The Lancet 349 (1997), pp. 275–278.
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- Klawans, Harold L., Chekhov's Lie, 1997, ISBN 1-888799-12-9.
- Lowbury E. Apollo: An Anthology of Poems by Doctor Poets. London: Keynes Press; 1990.
- McDonough ML. Poet-Physicians: An Anthology of Medical Poetry Written by Physicians. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas; 1945.
- Monro TK. The Physician as Man of Letters, Science and Action. Edinburgh: E. & S. Livingstone Limited, 1951.
- Morrell RC. "Physician-writers: Chekhov, Keats, and Maugham," Pharos 59 (1986), pp. 26–30.
- Mukand J, editor. Articulations: the Body and Illness in Poetry, University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, IA (1994).
- Paige NM, Alloggiamento T., Vital Signs: The UCLA Collection of Physicians' Poetry. Los Angeles: University of California at Los Angeles, 1990.
- Peschel ER. Medicine and Literature. New York: Neale Watson Academic Publications, Inc., 1980.
- Rousseau JS. "Literature and medicine: the state of the field," Isis 72 (1981), pp. 406–424.
- Smithers DW. This Idle Trade: On Doctors Who Were Writers. Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom: Dragonfly Press, 1989.
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