A Sunday Times Book of the Year
As featured on the BBC Radio 2 Book Club
Dr James Barry: Inspector General of Hospitals, army surgeon, duellist, reformer, ladykiller, eccentric. He performed the first successful Caesarean in the British Empire, outraged the military establishment and gave Florence Nightingale a dressing down at Scutari. At home he was surrounded by a menagerie of animals, including a cat, a goat, a parrot and a terrier. Long ago in Cork, Ireland, he had also been a mother.
This is the amazing tale of Margaret Anne Bulkley, the young woman who broke the rules of Georgian society to become one of the most respected surgeons of the century. In an extraordinary life, she crossed paths with the British Empire's great and good, royalty and rebels, soldiers and slaves. A medical pioneer, she rose to a position that no woman before her had been allowed to occupy, but for all her successes, her long, audacious deception also left her isolated, even costing her the chance to be with the man she loved.
Michael du Preez graduated from medical school in 1958 and went on to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. Since retiring in 2001, he's spent over a decade researching the life of Dr James Barry. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa. Jeremy Dronfield is a writer, biographer and novelist. He lives in Ely, Cambridgeshire.