Fitzharris ’04 to Share Grisly World of Victorian Medicine with IWU
Sept. 28, 2018
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Bestselling author and medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris ’04 will return to her alma mater to present a talk titled “Good Old Hospital Stink:”
The Grisly World of Victorian Surgery on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hansen
Student Center (300 E Beecher St., Bloomington).
Fitzharris will spend the evening shedding light on the brutal and bloody world of
Victorian surgery – a place definitely not for the squeamish. She will discuss how
surgeons, working before anesthesia, were lauded for their speed and brute strength.
They rarely washed their hands or their instruments, and carried with them a cadaverous
smell of rotting flesh, which those in the profession cheerfully referred to as “good
old hospital stink.”
Fitzharris will also explore a critical turning point in the history of medicine.
When surgery could not have been more dangerous, an unlikely figure stepped forward:
Joseph Lister, a young, visionary Quaker surgeon whose quest to unite science and
medicine delivered us into the modern world. By making the audacious claim that germs
were the source of all infection – and could be treated with antiseptics – and working
ceaselessly to enlighten the medical world, Lister brought centuries of savagery,
sawing, and gangrene to an end.
A Mount Prospect, Illinois native, Fitzharris holds a bachelor’s degree in history
from Illinois Wesleyan, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Oxford,
where she also studied as an undergraduate during her junior year through the IWU Pembroke Program.
Her next book will be on the birth of plastic surgery told through the incredible story
of Harold Gillies, the pioneering surgeon who first united art & medicine to address
the horrific injuries that resulted from World War I.