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Joseph I. Waring Jr Lecture: 'Tuberculous Lives, Smollett, Keats, and Orwell"

The Waring Historical Library at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) announces that its annual Joseph I. Waring Jr. Lecture and annual membership meeting will take place on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm in the Basic Sciences Building auditorium on the campus of the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Helen Bynum will present her talk, “Tuberculous Lives: Smollett, Keats, and Orwell.” This lecture discusses Dr. Bynum’s findings in her book, “Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis.”

Tobias Smollett (1721-71), John Keats (1795-1821) and George Orwell (1903-1950) shared the common fate of so many throughout history: a life lived with, and death from, tuberculosis. The experiences of Smollett, Keats and Orwell span the period from the 18th century to the dawn of the antibiotic age and provide a window onto doctors’ aspirations to treat an incurable condition and patients’ hopes and despairs.

Helen Bynum (Honorary Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, UCL) is a writer with interests in the history of medicine and science. She studied human sciences at UCL and received a PhD from the same institution. Her early career was spent at the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It was while working on the history of LSTM that she became interested in the history of tuberculosis, then regarded as a problem only in poorer countries overseas.

The lecture falls on and marks World TB Day, March 24th, which is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. World TB Day commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced to the world that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.

Following the lecture will be a reception to celebrate the Grand Reopening of the Waring Historical Library. Attendees are invited to tour the Waring Historical Library and view the recent renovations, new exhibits, and historical collections on display.

This event is free and open to the public, though reservations are required.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact the library at 843-792-2288 or


Joseph I. Waring Jr. Lecture "Tuberculous Lives, Smollett, Keats, and Orwell"