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October 15, 1982

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682): A Model for Medical Humanists

JAMA. 1982;248(15):1845-1847. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330150031018

THIS week marks the 300th anniversary of the death of Sir Thomas Browne, a physician chiefly remembered for his contribution to English letters, an experimenter and reasoner who helped to shape the course of early modern science, and a philosopher and moralist who would have been a credit to any profession.

Thomas Browne was born on Oct 19, 1605, the son of a well-to-do London tradesman, who died when Thomas was 8 years old. After completing his preliminary schooling at Winchester College, Browne entered Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1623 and remained there until 1629, when he received the degree of master of arts.

Inspired by Dr Thomas Clayton, professor of anatomy and medicine at Pembroke, Browne chose a medical career, and, since his means permitted it, he attended the best continental schools. He spent some time at Montpellier, France, and Padua, Italy, and finished his training at Leyden, the Netherlands,