Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 June 2021
In ‘A Medical Document’ (1894), Theodore Foster, a prosperous GP from the Midlands, speaks of the divergent incidence of the disease practitioners encountered and the medical afflictions that occur in fiction. He cannily notes that medical conditions are commonly used to provide or support melodrama and sensation but rarely to promote the kind of everyday occurrences that give definition to realism. These more quotidian representations of medical practice in popular fiction are at the centre of this chapter. Looking directly at the commonplace in Conan Doyle’s series collected under the title Round the Red Lamp (1894) and L. T. Meade’s Stories from the Diary of a Doctor (1893–95), as well as considering it in relation to its much more common fraternity in the genres of romance, the chapter reveals not only the significance of the everyday for portrayals of professionalised medicine, but also shows how realist representation is a vehicle for emerging critiques of medical knowledge making. The chapter moves beyond the normal register of the anxieties generated by fin-de-siècle medicine to focus on the often overlooked territory of pharmacology, reading fin-de-siècle medical fictions for both the sensational and the everyday when it came to how physic and new drugs were used and abused.