Darwin’s Medical Practice

1731 - 1802 (c.)

Image: Page from Erasmus Darwin’s Prescription Book, showing a prescription for Brooke Boothby.

Image from: Erasmus Darwin House, Lichfield.

Photograph: David Remes (2003).

3. Darwin’s Medical Practice

Darwin lived in his Beacon Street house for more than 20 years. Here he carried on a successful and extensive medical practice, gradually becoming known as the best British physician of the day. In the words of James Keir:

“sympathy and benevolence were the most striking features. He felt very sensibly for others, and, from his knowledge of human nature, he entered into their feelings and sufferings in the different circumstances of their constitution, character, health, sickness, and prejudice.”

Some patients stayed in Darwin’s house for days and even weeks. The poor were treated free. Brooke Boothby wrote of Darwin’s house:

“whose ever-open door
Draws, like Bethesda’s pool, the suffering poor;
Where some fit cure the wretched all obtain,
Relieved at once from poverty and pain.”


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10-0An “ever-open door”: Erasmus Darwin and Lichfield 1068-0Lichfield in the late 18th century 3997-0Darwin’s Home 1085-0Darwin’s Medical Practice 1077-0“Doctor Darwin – On the Road” 1072-0Medical Research and Dissection 1088-0Inventions, the Commonplace Book and the Lunar Society 1078-0Biological Evolution 1071-0Home Life 1082-0Darwin’s Sons 1076-0Mary Parker 1083-0Darwin’s Daughters 1087-1Darwin and Education 1080-0Elizabeth Pole 1069-0Darwin’s Legacy