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Plato of Praed Street

The Life and Times of Almroth Wright

Michael Dunnill

January 2001




ISBN 978-1-85315-477-5

Plato of Praed Street

This book considers the life and work of a colourful and controversial doctor who made a significant impact on medicine at the turn of the last century. Dunnill analyses the various contributions of Almroth Wright, which of which have been consistently underplayed because of his contempt for the Harley Street ethos and his controversial views on women.

Wright's belief in the importance of public funding of medical research helped to bring about the foundation of the Medical Research Council. He also helped to overcome the intransigent attitude of the military and medical hierarchy towards the prevention of typhoid fever by vaccination, and encouraged the rational treatment of war wounds. Wright had an incalculable effect on those around him. Many distinguished men received their training from him and it was in his laboratory that his assistant, Fleming, discovered penicillin. A close personal friend of George Bernard Shaw, he became the model for Sir Conlenso Ridgeon in Shaw's play, "The Doctor's Dilemma".

This biography of a remarkable and eccentric man will prove of great interest to the general reader as well as to historians of science, medicine and war, and those who trained or worked at St Mary's Hospital.


An Evangelical Upbringing; Netley; The Fight against Typhoid; A New Department at St Mary's; Birth of Vaccine Therapy; Vaccines, Polemics and Greenwood; Women, St Mary's and the Suffrage Question; The Wounds of War; Over the Heads of the Generals; Research and Teaching; Family, Friends and Philosophy; The Final Years.

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History of Medicine and Medical Biography

Michael Dunnill