Laura Parker has compiled a list of literary doctors but where are the fictional women MDs?
Yuri Zhivago is a doctor and poet who lives through the tumult of 20th century Russia in Boris Pasternak’s novel. The love of his life, who continually eludes him, is Lara.
Not the monstrous half, but the good one who battles with his transformation into his wicked alter-ego, Mr Hyde, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Victorian classic.
Anthony Trollope’s kind and altruistic country GP brings up his niece and knows everyone’s secrets as the eponymous hero of the third novel in the Barchester Chronicles. One of literature’s good chaps.
Possibly Ian Fleming's best-known villain, he is one of James Bond’s toughest adversaries, more interested in doling out pain than curing anyone with his metal hands. Lives in the mysterious Crab Key island and is a member of SPECTRE.
An unfortunate doctor. Not only is he dull, and married to Emma Bovary, but he is proven weak as well as incompetent when persuaded to undertake a revolutionary new surgical technique and it all goes badly wrong.
Sherlock Holmes’ flatmate and trusted sidekick, Dr Watson is the loyal and dependable narrator of most of the Victorian detective adventures. He is referred to by his first name only four times in the whole of the series.
More of a scholar and necromancer than a regular medic, literature’s most tragic doctor – on account of having made a bargain with the devil – appears in several literary forms but most memorably in in English in Christopher Marlowe’s 1594 play.
Dr Van Helsing
Van Helsing is a Dutch doctor and vampire hunter who is called in by another doctor, John Seward, one of the narrators of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, to attend to the mysterious illness of Lucy Westenra. She has bite marks on her neck.
A doctor with a menagerie, who finds conversation with animals more appealing than attending to human patients, Dr Dolittle was created by Hugh Lofting when writing to his children from the trenches of WWI.
Writers who were doctors:
Anton Chekov – Russian playwright and master short storyteller.
John Keats – trained as a surgeon before dedicating himself to poetry.
Somerset Maugham – novelist, short story writer, and qualified physician.
William Carlos Williams – American experimental poet and a doctor for 40 years.
Arthur Conan Doyle – trained and practised as a doctor, and created Sherlock Holmes.
Khaled Hosseini – the Afghan-born writer of The Kite Runner trained as a doctor in California.
And one who wasn’t
Dr Seuss - author of some of the best-selling children’s books of all time (The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham), Theodor Seuss Geisel adopted the title while still a student.