The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England's Most Eminent Surgeon

The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England's Most Eminent Surgeon

Rachel Holmes / Aug 25, 2019

The Secret Life of Dr James Barry Victorian England s Most Eminent Surgeon James Barry was an innovative medical pioneer radical humanitarian and flamboyant person who traversed the British Empire during the th century He campaigned tirelessly for the humanitarian rights

  • Title: The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England's Most Eminent Surgeon
  • Author: Rachel Holmes
  • ISBN: 9780752441399
  • Page: 352
  • Format: Paperback
  • James Barry was an innovative medical pioneer, radical humanitarian, and flamboyant person who traversed the British Empire during the 19th century He campaigned tirelessly for the humanitarian rights of the patient On three continents, Barry implemented new methods of hygiene, sanitation, quarantine, diet, and effective treatment of some of the most virulent diseases knJames Barry was an innovative medical pioneer, radical humanitarian, and flamboyant person who traversed the British Empire during the 19th century He campaigned tirelessly for the humanitarian rights of the patient On three continents, Barry implemented new methods of hygiene, sanitation, quarantine, diet, and effective treatment of some of the most virulent diseases known to the age His medical reforms saved the lives of thousands of people But Barry was not what he seemed He courted controversy throughout his life sexual scandal, a fiery temper, elaborate dress, and rampant vegetarianism set him apart from his peers Yet all the while he concealed a secret that went right to the heart of his identity Rachel Holmes pursues Barry s tumultuous adventures across the globe, bringing to life through eloquent storytelling this extraordinary Victorian who caused outrage wherever he went, yet through it all defiantly lived a life that otherwise would have been denied.

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    About "Rachel Holmes"

      • Rachel Holmes

        Rachel Holmes new book, Eleanor Marx A Life is published by Bloomsbury on 8 May 2014, described by Golden PEN Award winner Gillian Slovo as a dazzling account of a woman and her family, an age and a movement, that grips from the first page to the last Holmes is also the author of The Hottentot Venus The life and death of Saartjie Baartman Bloomsbury and The Secret Life of Dr James Barry Viking Tempus Books Last year Rachel co edited, with Lisa Appignanesi and Susie Orbach, the much discussed Fifty Shades of Feminism Virago She was co commissioning editor of Sixty Six Books 21st Century Writers Speak to the King James Bible Oberon, 2011 with Josie Rourke and Chris Haydon Holmes is curator of the new Impossible Conversations talks series at the Donmar Warehouse in London.In 2010 she received an Arts Council cultural leadership award as one of Britain s Fifty Women to Watch Rachel Holmes has worked with and for British Council literature festivals and international programmes since 2000.


    969 Comments

    1. The "astonishing secret" in is that James Barry was a hermaphrodite, or perhaps a woman. This revelation comes at the end of a fairly standard biography of this pioneering Victorian surgeon. Barry was of interest beyond questions of his/her gender -- he tirelessly campaigned for important medical reforms and innovated new medical procedures. An advocate for the poor and neglected, Barry practiced in several colonies as well as in the military, rising to a position of prominence. Barry was a note [...]


    2. I found the beginning of the book (Barry's early years in medical school), and the end of the book (an in-depth discussion about Barry's sexual identity) very boring. I thoroughly enjoyed the middle of the book though - discussing Barry's life and career in Cape Town, St. Helena,the West Indies and Corfu. He was an amazingly good doctor and administrator, with great humanitarian leanings. He cared for those at the bottom of society - prostitutes, prisoners and lepers, as well as for his more hig [...]


    3. A thoroughly researched and highly readable history of the life and times of Dr. James Barry - a life that retains its mystery even now.


    4. When I started reading this biography, it didn't really hold my attention. This is no reflection on the writing, which is very good, but rather that I'd already read 'The Perfect Gentleman' by June Rose, also a biography of Dr James Barry. Until three-quarters of the way through Holmes' biography, it is quite a straightforward account of Dr Barry's life and accomplishments; interesting, but not new to me. What this biography adds, and takes it up to four stars, is the last sixty pages. 'The Perf [...]


    5. I was really looking forward to this book, but it did not deliver what was promised. I found Dr Barry's story fascinating - his many accomplishments make for an impressive tale even without the confusion surrounding his sexual identity. Unfortunately, I was left feeling this book was not very well written. Holmes makes many assertions without providing sufficient evidence for them. I first recognized this during the chapter about Barry's time on the Cape, which referenced a special relationship [...]


    6. Incredibly interesting topic, but sadly not a great book. I guess there's just not that much information about James Barry out there, too many questions that can't be answered, and too much speculation.


    7. I can't get through this one right now, but not for any flaw in the book. It's interesting and very easy to read. Just don't have time for it at the moment.


    8. Love this book. Very interesting and insightful read of the life of Dr James Barry. Very well research biography.


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