Parkinson's disease is one of the most common forms of dementia, with 10,000 new cases each year in the UK alone, and yet few know anything about the man the disease is named after.In 1817 - exactly 200 years ago - James Parkinson (1755-1824) defined the disease so precisely that we still diagnose it today by recognising the symptoms he identified. The story of this remarkable man's contributions to the Age of the Enlightenment is told through his three passions - medicine, politics and fossils.As a political radical Parkinson was interrogated over a plot to kill King George III and revealed as the author of anti-government pamphlets, a crime for which many were transported to Australia; while helping Edward Jenner set up smallpox vaccination stations across London, he wrote the first scientific study of fossils in English, which led to fossil-hunting becoming the nation's latest craze - just a glimpse of his many achievements.Cherry Lewis restores this neglected pioneer to his rightful place in history, while creating a vivid and pungent portrait of life as an 'apothecary surgeon' in Georgian London.
'Lewis writes in an enjoyably digressive style: her descriptions of medical practice at the end of the 18th century, and of changing life in east London, are particularly engaging.' -- The Scotsman 'A vivid picture of the peculiarities of the time.' * Mail on Sunday * 'In a splendid new book, historian of geology Cherry Lewis introduces us to a fascinating, multifaceted Enlightenment figure: the intellectually curious, politically active and socially concerned London surgeon-apothecary James Parkinson (1755-1824).' -- Tilli Tansey * Medical History: A Surgeon for all Seasons * 'Lewis paints a vivid portrait of the life and times of a man of many talents ... a fine, informative read.' -- Manjit Kumar * Prospect * 'A well-written, comprehensive biography of a genuine polymath.' * The Tablet * 'A fascinating account. Parkinson fought for the rights of the vulnerable, moved some scientific fields forward and observed what most people could not see. Absorbing. Anyone interested in the history of medicine, politics and geology will enjoy this book. I finished it in awe of Parkinson's many accomplishments and contributions to politics, health and science.'
Cherry Lewis is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. A geologist by training, she worked in the oil industry as well as in the press office of the University of Bristol before turning her interests to the history of geology. She is the author of The Dating Game: One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth (Cambridge University Press, 2000).