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This is an investigative biography of the 19C surgeon, scientist, and social activist, Sir Anthony Carlisle, which may become a non-fiction history book of the year. The author's research has involved a detective type, iconographic analysis, of items of 18C art, a similar analysis of several items of 18C Gothic literature, coupled with detailed searches of 18C and early 19C medical literature, seeking original sources to support his developing conclusions. One hesitates to use the term, but as an analogy, it is a bit like a thinking person's Da Vinci Code, but in this case involving well supported facts, not fiction.
There are several major discoveries, and many minor ones, supported by extremely detailed and contemporary, artistic and literary evidence. The major ones are:
- That Carlisle wrote several Gothic novels previously attributed to a Mrs Carver.
- That William Smellie MD and William Hunter MD, famous men-midwives and anatomists of the 18C, were responsible for many murders of pregnant women to obtain subjects for dissection.
- That William Hogarth's iconic engraving, The Reward of Cruelty, depicts William Smellie in the process of being dissected by the Hunters. This being Hogarth's view of the appropriate punishment for Smellie's murders of the pregnant women.
- That even George II alluded to the murders, in a speech to Parliament on 15 November 1753
- That Carlisle was the model for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Papers on the first two conclusions have been accepted by specialist journals.
Romantic Textualities - Issue 19 (Winter 2009)
Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine; Feb 2010 - Anatomy and murder to order
The arguments identifying Carlisle as inspiration for Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein are especially detailed and develop a much stronger case for Carlisle, than any other person previously proposed. The actual model for the Creature is identified as a mummified body embalmed in London in 1774 and presented to the Royal College of Surgeons' Museum for public display in 1815, shortly before Mary commenced Frankenstein. Mary's Creature can even be seen, holding a shroud and rising from the dead, in the background of Carlisle's portrait.
The major discoveries overshadow Carlisle's important discovery of electrolysis, his early experiments with flight and photography, and his fight to protect the role of midwives, which for any other person would be major life achievements. The momentous and far-reaching nature of the historical discoveries examined is so broad, that many will automatically reject the notions without reviewing the evidence. That is their right. However, if they are willing to consider the detailed and compelling evidence, they will find themselves swayed by it, and come to accept the conclusion that Carlisle was one of the outstanding men of the 19C.
As further illustration, William Smellie MD and William Hunter MD were responsible for many more murders than the infamous 19C murderers, Burke and Hare, and Jack the Ripper combined. Even more shockingly, the logical extension of this discovery hints at alarming parallels between 18C British anatomical research and that of Nazi Germany during World War II.
The author comments he is conscious at how much detail and how many sources are included, but says due to the nature of the conclusions, he felt it necessary to include all the evidence found. Once the evidence has been fully considered by historians, there will need to be a rewriting of aspects of 18C medical history. This may be resisted by some medical traditionalists, but over coming months and years, it seems that medical history will need amendment.
Research is apparently ongoing, with the ebook modified as new evidence comes to hand. Edition2d is now available for purchase, with 475 pages and over 250 illustrations, and over 1600 footnoted sources.