A hearty tale of blood and gore
“I will affirm, my most excellent Doctors, the blood to pass forth and return by unwonted tracts . . .”
With these words William Harvey, the subject of Thomas Wright’s spellbinding biography, would proceed to show in gory detail his revolutionary theory of circulation. By performing vivisections in front of enrapt audiences, Harvey demonstrated that blood must be pumped around the body in a circuit. It was this revelation that would shatter existing theories on anatomy and physiology and usher in a new era in medicine.
Wright leads us through the colourful years of Harvey’s life as an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. With sore eyes and fingers numb with cold, Harvey would read avidly into the night, pausing only to look down with envy and contempt at the “gentlemen” undergraduates, the sons of noblemen, lords, and barons. Through his knowledge and expertise in medicine, Harvey hoped to