08 April 2016

The Busiest Man in England Lays Down His Pen

Hilda Wade: A Woman With Tenacity of Purpose
Grant Allen [and Arthur Conan Doyle]
New York: Putnam, 1900
383 pages

This review, revised and rewritten, now appears in my new book:
The Dusty Bookcase:
A Journey Through Canada's
Forgotten, Neglected, and Suppressed Writing
Available at the very best bookstores and through


  1. If the world-famous Professor Sebastian "has [or is supposed to have - presumably as a villain he hasn't actually] done more than any other to advance the science of medicine" why is he at St Nathaniel's Hospital, not the finest of institutions, rather than the more prestigious St. George's? Or do we have to read the book to find out?

    1. A fair question, Roger. Perhaps I should have chosen different words. St Nathaniel's is depicted as a hospital that serves the working class and impoverished. I can't recall whether it is stated outright, but there is at least an implication that Sebastian finds more interesting ailments amongst the poor. Of course, that he devotes his life in this way only bolsters the public's admiration.

      I may as well add that it becomes very clear to Cumberledge and Maisie that Sebastian doesn't care much about his patients, seeing them merely as cases through which he will be able to advance medical science. In this way, he resembles to Dr Harry Chichele in Allen's 1888 novel The Devil's Die (my favourite to date).