Who said: "Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man..."

BookBrowse's Favorite Quotes

"Show me the books he loves and I shall know
The man far better than through mortal friends."

— S. Weir Mitchell


Silas Weir MitchellNeurologist and novelist Silas Weir Mitchell (1829-1914) was one of the most prominent American physicians of the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, publishing 25 accounts and papers based on his extensive experimentations on animals in the 1850s alone.

During the Civil War he worked as a surgeon in the Union Army, treating nervous cases at Turner's Lane Military Hospital in Philadelphia (even though he had no experience in neurology up to that point). He published a number of publications following this period, one of these was 'Gunshot Wounds', which featured the first descriptions of phantom limb, ascending neuritis and erythromelalgia (the 'burning pain', also known as Mitchell's disease).

He is arguably best known for establishing a rest cure as a method of treating patients, especially women, suffering from hysteria - the cure became the standard treatment for many decades, particularly in England.

Weir Mitchell was something of a character. In appearance his gaunt features and bearded face caused some to liken him to 'Uncle Sam'. He was a superb conversationalist and his humor and personality gave him a wide range of friends. He was famous for his sometimes eccentric approach to patients. For example one story (possibly exaggerated with time) tells how he was confronted with a lady who believed she was dying. Having tried all the tricks he knew to induce her to leave her bed, he threatened her with rape and commenced to undress. He got to his undergarments when the woman fled the room screaming!

From the 1880s onwards he devoted his attention to writing novels and poetry. His most popular novels were Hugh Wynne (1897) and The Adventures of Francois (1898). In his later years his fame as a man of letters equaled his reputation as a physician, and he traveled extensively in the USA and overseas giving speeches - but always returning to Philadelphia where he was born and died.

Image from The History of Medicine (NLM), 1881

More Quotes

This quote & biography originally ran in an issue of BookBrowse's membership magazine. Full Membership Features & Benefits.

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Ninth Hour
    The Ninth Hour
    by Alice McDermott
    In a pivotal scene in The Ninth Hour, young Sally encounters an increasingly loathsome series of ...
  • Book Jacket: Rebellion
    Rebellion
    by Molly Patterson
    Rebellion overlays the stories of four women, spanning a century and the globe in their wide ...
  • Book Jacket: Genuine Fraud
    Genuine Fraud
    by E Lockhart
    Do we ever really know who our friends are? Or what the truth is? After all, truth, like beauty is ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Love and Other Consolation Prizes
    by Jamie Ford

    Inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Twelve-Mile Straight
    by Eleanor Henderson

    An audacious epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If the Creek Don't Rise

If the Creek Don't Rise

A debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y Can't M A S P O O A S E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.