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December 22, 1969

Osler's Writing Style

Author Affiliations

From the Department of the Medical Library and Publications, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minn.

JAMA. 1969;210(12):2257-2260. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03160380071016

It may not be considered revelatory to state that the young William Osier was at best a pedestrian writer, and that his vastly improved style in later years indicates the self-education of a determined self-critic. Yet this is my view, and certainly comforting to me, also somewhat preoccupied with self-criticism as a writer and editor. Perhaps others will be similarly encouraged. By his John's Hopkins years Osler "had learned to conceal the effort which all good writing requires, even in the gifted."1

Early Osier  In 1875, when he was 26 years old, Osler delivered an address on behalf of the medical faculty to the graduating class at McGill University. The speech was not only one of his earliest but also one of his poorest efforts. The major problem is the lack of a coherent theme. Though it is short, the address switches from the importance of continued study, to