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March 11, 1961

Shakespearean Medicine

JAMA. 1961;175(10):922-923. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040100086024

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Abstract

The editorial on Shakespearean medicine published in the November 19th issue of The Journal has elicited several letters pointing out interesting phases of Shakespeare's medical references. They further underline the fact the bard of Avon was a very astute observer of man. This is especially true where dermatology is concerned. Dr. Norman Tobias of St. Louis calls attention to 6 dermatological conditions which are mentioned in 5 of his plays:

"Acne Rosacea:.....'his face is all bubkles (probably a fusion of bubo and carbuncle), and welks, and knobs, and flames of fire; and his lips blows at his nose, and it is like a coal of fire, some times blue and sometimes red.'

Fluellen to King Henry in Henry V, Act III, Sc. VI.

"Nevi: 'And the blots of Nature's hand Shall not in their issue stand: Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar, Nor mark prodigious, such as are Despised in nativity,

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