100 books like The Diary of William Harvey

By Jean Hamburger, Barbara Wright (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Diary of William Harvey fans have personally recommended if you like The Diary of William Harvey. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Harvey's Heart: The Discovery of Blood Circulation

Helen King Author Of Greek and Roman Medicine

From my list on discovering the circulation of the blood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by history since I was a fairly sickly child, which means I was gradually drawn towards the history of medicine. Add to that having a hereditary blood clotting condition and you can see why this topic appeals to me! I have a BA and a PhD in History from University College London and have held posts in the universities of Cambridge, Newcastle, Reading, and then at The Open University. I’ve also held visiting professorships in Vienna, Texas, and Minnesota and have published six books as well as editing others. I’m sort of retired but still writing and lecturing.

Helen's book list on discovering the circulation of the blood

Helen King Why did Helen love this book?

Harvey’s Heart is a tiny book but it packs in a lot, including plenty of illustrations. I used to teach the history of medicine and I found blood circulation a difficult topic – I’m squeamish myself, and faint at blood tests, which doesn’t help! But this book makes Harvey’s ideas very clear, not least how something we now take for granted wasn’t obvious at all until the 17th century.

His breakthrough was a weird mix of building on discoveries by others – such as knowing that valves stop the blood moving backwards – while observing, experimenting, and speculating for himself. Although he published his theory in 1628, he seems to have worked it out maybe ten years earlier. The conventions of science in his day meant he had to offer it to the world rather cautiously, because saying that the ancients had got it wrong was a dangerous claim…

By Andrew Gregory,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Harvey's Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The tale of William Harvey's momentous discovery - that the blood vessels form a closed system, carrying blood pumped rapidly around the body by the heart - is one of ingenuity, imagination and perseverence, and remarkable use of experiment, observation and skill.


Book cover of An Instance of the Fingerpost

Robert J. Lloyd Author Of The Bloodless Boy

From my list on science-based historical fiction novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write as Robert J. Lloyd, but my friends call me Rob. Having studied Fine Art at a BA degree level (starting as a landscape painter but becoming a sculpture/photography/installation/performance generalist), I then moved to writing. During my MA degree in The History of Ideas, I happened to read Robert Hooke’s diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary and fascinating man. My MA thesis and my Hooke & Hunt series of historical thrillers are all about him. I’m fascinated by early science, which was the initial ‘pull’ into writing these stories, but the political background of the times (The Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, for example) is just as enticing. 

Robert's book list on science-based historical fiction novels

Robert J. Lloyd Why did Robert love this book?

This is the only ‘whodunnit’ on my list, but it’s so much more. (As are all the best ‘whodunnits’.)

For a start, it’s told from four different points of view. My own books use the early history of the Royal Society, its science, and various of its actual ‘Fellows,’ and this book was undeniably an influence. Pears details the politics and religious turmoil of the time and the excitement of new scientific discoveries.

The mid-17th century’s rigid social structure and manners are shown starkly, as is the misogyny. I found it dark, layered, and although complex, it’s immediately engaging. A very satisfying book indeed!

By Iain Pears,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked An Instance of the Fingerpost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A fictional tour de force which combines erudition with mystery' PD James

Set in Oxford in the 1660s - a time and place of great intellectual, religious, scientific and political ferment - this remarkable novel centres around a young woman, Sarah Blundy, who stands accused of the murder of Robert Grove, a fellow of New College. Four witnesses describe the events surrounding his death: Marco da Cola, a Venetian Catholic intent on claiming credit for the invention of blood transfusion;Jack Prescott, the son of a supposed traitor to the Royalist cause, determined to vindicate his father; John Wallis, chief cryptographer…


Book cover of Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce

Helen King Author Of Greek and Roman Medicine

From my list on discovering the circulation of the blood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by history since I was a fairly sickly child, which means I was gradually drawn towards the history of medicine. Add to that having a hereditary blood clotting condition and you can see why this topic appeals to me! I have a BA and a PhD in History from University College London and have held posts in the universities of Cambridge, Newcastle, Reading, and then at The Open University. I’ve also held visiting professorships in Vienna, Texas, and Minnesota and have published six books as well as editing others. I’m sort of retired but still writing and lecturing.

Helen's book list on discovering the circulation of the blood

Helen King Why did Helen love this book?

We think of blood as a gift: if you’re a blood donor you ‘give’ blood. But this book examines how it became a marketable commodity. It starts with Harvey but goes up to CJD and the AIDS crisis. It’s a fascinating story of generosity and greed as well as of those who worked in hematology in the early days when very little was known for sure. With lots of engrossing anecdotes, Starr brings to life the people whose experiments led to our knowledge today.

By Douglas Starr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of blood is a story of transformation, divided into three eras. The first period, from antiquity to the early twentieth century, involves the transformation of blood from a magical substance - the blood of Christ as holy sacrament - to a component of human anatomy, capable of being studied and turned into a source of healing. In the next era, which lasts until the end of the Second World War, the scientific curiosity of blood becomes a strategic material. We see medical scientists master the resource, learning the techniques of mass collections and storage, ironically aided in their…


Book cover of The Circulation of the Blood and Other Writings

Helen King Author Of Greek and Roman Medicine

From my list on discovering the circulation of the blood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by history since I was a fairly sickly child, which means I was gradually drawn towards the history of medicine. Add to that having a hereditary blood clotting condition and you can see why this topic appeals to me! I have a BA and a PhD in History from University College London and have held posts in the universities of Cambridge, Newcastle, Reading, and then at The Open University. I’ve also held visiting professorships in Vienna, Texas, and Minnesota and have published six books as well as editing others. I’m sort of retired but still writing and lecturing.

Helen's book list on discovering the circulation of the blood

Helen King Why did Helen love this book?

Go on. Give yourself a treat! Read the book which started it all! There’s nothing quite like reading the original source. Harvey wrote in Latin but this is a good translation with an excellent introduction by Andrew Wear, an expert on the period. And as a bonus, the Everyman edition includes The Anatomy of Thomas Parr – an account of the dissection of a Shropshire farmer said to be 152 years old, performed by Harvey himself. What killed Parr? Coming to London, a city “full of the filth of men”. Be warned!

By William Harvey, Kenneth Franklin (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Circulation of the Blood and Other Writings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of Bodies Politic: Disease, Death, and Doctors in Britain, 1650-1900

Patricia Fara Author Of Life after Gravity: Isaac Newton's London Career

From my list on enlightenment science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Emeritus Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and I’ve written several popular books as well as featuring in TV/radio programmes such as In Our Time and Start the Week (BBC). I love the challenge of explaining to general audiences why the history of science is such an exciting and important subject – far more difficult than writing an academic paper. I believe that studying the past is crucial for understanding how we’ve reached the present – and the whole point of doing that is to improve the future. My underlying preoccupations involve exploring how and why western science has developed over the last few centuries to become the dominant (and male-dominated) culture throughout the world.

Patricia's book list on enlightenment science

Patricia Fara Why did Patricia love this book?

After I decided to include this old favourite of mine, I discovered to my great delight that Bodies Politic is about to be reissued in paperback. Roy Porter was the most prolific, fluent and insightful academic I have ever been privileged to know, and decades ago, his lectures inspired me to recognise how much fun historical research can be. In my own work, I have focused strongly on images – not only in textbooks, but also in journals, art galleries and albums. As Porter expertly discusses, studying caricatures is immensely enjoyable but also invaluable for uncovering concealed controversies, which provide crucial indicators of what people really thought.

By Roy Porter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bodies Politic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a historical tour de force, Roy Porter takes a critical look at representations of the body in death, disease and health, and at images of the healing arts in Britain from the mid-seventeenth to the twentieth century. Porter's key assumptions are that the human body is the chief signifier and communicator of all manner of meanings religious, moral, political and medical and that pre-scientific medicine was an art which depended heavily on ritual, rhetoric and theatre. Porter argues that great symbolic weight was attached to contrasting conceptions of the healthy and diseased body, and that such ideas were mapped…


Book cover of Victorian Pharmacy: Rediscovering Home Remedies and Recipes

Lisa M. Lane Author Of Murder at Old St. Thomas's

From my list on the wonders of Victorian medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in the history of medicine, particularly the ways in which historical methods are portrayed to be inferior to modern medicine. As a historian, I am alternately amused and horrified at the way we go overboard in discarding historical methods of healthcare, ridding ourselves of perfectly useful techniques, drugs, and therapies. The more I learn about older curative methods, the more I’ve become sensitive to the knowledge and technologies that have been lost. At the same time, I am fascinated by new technologies, and find anesthesia particularly captivating as a technique that improved survival and recovery from what had previously been deadly conditions.

Lisa's book list on the wonders of Victorian medicine

Lisa M. Lane Why did Lisa love this book?

A clever introduction to Victorian pharmaceuticals and remedies, this is a companion book for the popular BBC television series. It provides an explanation of the natural substances used for healing, and how they were made into marketable and regulated medicines for sale at the apothecary shop. The emphasis is on safety, because the authors don’t want you trying arsenic and mercury-based compounds at home, and indeed they leave out a great many useful Victorian remedies, particularly those containing opium! But the knowledge about how apothecary shops worked, and what the pharmacist did to turn plants and other substances into medicine, is invaluable.

By Jane Eastoe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Victorian Pharmacy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ties in to a fantastic new four-part BBC series from the makers of the hit Victorian Farm Shows how many products on sale in our high street chemists today can trace their origins back to nineteenth century formulations Full of fascinating facts, remedies and recipes to try at home Victorian Farm sold over 40,000 copies (Nielsen Bookscan figures)

This is the story of consumer medicine - how high street healthcare emerged in just 50 years and how we still rely on hundreds of formulations and products that can trace their origins back to the nineteenth century.

Sun cream, treatments for…


Book cover of The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England's Most Eminent Surgeon

Patrice McDonough Author Of Murder by Lamplight

From my list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a reading and history-loving family. My parents read all the time, and their books of choice combined historical fiction and nonfiction. It’s no wonder I ended up teaching high school history for over three decades. The first books I read were my older brother’s hand-me-down Hardy Boys. Then, I went on to Agatha Christie. Books written in the 1920s and 30s were historical mysteries by the time I read them decades later, so the historical mystery genre is a natural fit. As for the Victorian age, all that gaslight and fog makes it the perfect milieu for murder.

Patrice's book list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era

Patrice McDonough Why did Patrice love this book?

This superb biography is an engrossing account of the mysterious title surgeon and the doctor’s fascinating world. James Miranda Barry joined the British Army in 1813 as a regimental surgeon and served in colonial posts for the next fifty years. But Barry had been born Margaret Bulkley, an anatomical female—a surprise revealed after the doctor’s death.

Was Barry’s masquerade strategic, the doctor’s only route to a medical career? Was Barry a transgender person? I wondered if the “truth” would remain a mystery. Rachel Holmes persuaded me that the probable answer lies in a document “gathering dust” in Edinburgh’s medical school archives, a revelation she saves for the last chapter. 

By Rachel Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Life of Dr James Barry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A reissue of Rachel Holmes's landmark biography of Dr James Barry, one of the most enigmatic figures of the Victorian age. James Barry was one of the nineteenth century's most exceptional doctors, and one of its great unsung heroes. Famed for his brilliant innovations, Dr Barry influenced the birth of modern medical practice in places as far apart as South Africa, Jamaica and Canada. Barry's skills attracted admirers across the globe, but there were also many detractors of the ostentatious dandy, who caused controversy everywhere he went. Yet unbeknownst to all, the military surgeon concealed a lifelong secret at the…


Book cover of Forensic Medicine

Colin Cotterill Author Of The Coroner's Lunch

From my list on reads whilst awaiting radiology and/or death.

Why am I passionate about this?

When you write a book, it’s natural to put yourself in it. You’re the avenger, the rookie agent, the hard-drinking detective. But how many of us volunteer to be the corpse? I sit here every day in the cancer unit at a public Thai hospital and smile at folks who won’t be around much longer. I wrote fifteen books in a series about a coroner. I painted the victims colorfully when they were still alive but how much respect did I show them once they were chunks of slowly decaying meat? From now on my treatment of the souls that smile back at me will take on a new life.

Colin's book list on reads whilst awaiting radiology and/or death

Colin Cotterill Why did Colin love this book?

I thought I should include a book you have no chance of finding without dredging the second-hand book warehouses in Hay, Wales. (Which is where I found it). Like my protagonist, I had no idea about forensic medicine. But I couldn’t begin my studies in this day and age of CSI and DNA. I had to find a textbook that my Dr. Siri might use to solve cases back in the seventies. This was it, plus hundreds of gruesome photos for your coffee table. Like a true scientist, Dr. Simpson affords the dead not a shred of dignity.  

By Keith Simpson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forensic Medicine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Good reference. Many photos, some pretty gruesome. Shipped in cardboard mailer.


Book cover of Operations Without Pain: The Practice and Science of Anaesthesia in Victorian Britain

Lisa M. Lane Author Of Murder at Old St. Thomas's

From my list on the wonders of Victorian medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in the history of medicine, particularly the ways in which historical methods are portrayed to be inferior to modern medicine. As a historian, I am alternately amused and horrified at the way we go overboard in discarding historical methods of healthcare, ridding ourselves of perfectly useful techniques, drugs, and therapies. The more I learn about older curative methods, the more I’ve become sensitive to the knowledge and technologies that have been lost. At the same time, I am fascinated by new technologies, and find anesthesia particularly captivating as a technique that improved survival and recovery from what had previously been deadly conditions.

Lisa's book list on the wonders of Victorian medicine

Lisa M. Lane Why did Lisa love this book?

The development of anesthesia was met with confusion, dismissal, and even derision. While today we are accustomed to the idea of the patient being asleep, at the time it was seen as similar to operating on a dead body. Without the indications of pain or relief, how was the surgeon to feel what he was doing? And in its earliest days, some forms of anesthesia could be dangerous, the patient dying if the dosage wasn’t correct or they had an adverse reaction. But for the patient, and for surgeons who needed more time for an operation, anesthesia was an unequivocal blessing that took away pain and made life-saving procedures possible.

By Stephanie J. Snow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Operations Without Pain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The introduction of anaesthesia to Victorian Britain marked a defining moment between modern medicine and earlier practices. This book uses new information from John Snow's casebooks and London hospital archives to revise many of the existing historical assumptions about the early history of surgical anaesthesia. By examining complex patterns of innovation, reversals, debate and geographical difference, Stephanie Snow shows how anaesthesia became established as a routine part of British medicine.


Book cover of Female Patients in Early Modern Britain: Gender, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Jennifer Evans Author Of Maladies and Medicine: Exploring Health & Healing, 1540-1740

From my list on early modern medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lecturer in history at the University of Hertfordshire where I teach early modern history of medicine and the body. I have published on reproductive history in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The history of medicine is endlessly diverse, and there are so many books on early modern medicine, some broad and others more specific, it’s this variety that I find endlessly intriguing. Some conditions from the era, like gout and cancer, are familiar, while others like, greensickness, aren’t recognized any longer. Thinking about these differences and about how people’s bodies ached and suffered helps me to appreciate their relationships, struggles, and triumphs in a whole new dimension.

Jennifer's book list on early modern medicine

Jennifer Evans Why did Jennifer love this book?

I am always fascinated by gender history and women’s experiences in the past. Churchill’s book puts women front and center and considers how medical practitioners understood women’s bodies and health and what women experienced as patients. The book covers traditionally feminine conditions – gynecological and obstetrical issues – but also looks at disorders that affected both men and women, including smallpox, and mental health – hysteria and hypochondria. I like the way this book thinks through all aspects of women’s experiences, how their disorders were understood, who they sought treatment from, and how those treatments were adapted to the specifics of the female body (menstruation and lactation).

By Wendy D. Churchill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Female Patients in Early Modern Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This investigation contributes to the existing scholarship on women and medicine in early modern Britain by examining the diagnosis and treatment of female patients by male professional medical practitioners from 1590 to 1740. In order to obtain a clearer understanding of female illness and medicine during this period, this study examines ailments that were specific and unique to female patients as well as illnesses and conditions that afflicted both female and male patients. Through a qualitative and quantitative analysis of practitioners' records and patients' writings - such as casebooks, diaries and letters - an emphasis is placed on medical practice.…


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