The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine – review

Lindsey Fitzharris’s story of Lister’s battle to introduce hygiene to the operating theatre makes compelling reading

Armed with surgical instruments, chloroform and his sterilising spray, Joseph Lister was ready for action. It was 1871 and the eminent surgeon was about to tackle an enormous abscess that, left unchecked, could prove fatal.

There was one further complication: the patient was the Queen. It was a crucial operation – not just for Victoria, but the practice of surgery itself. Radical change was afoot, at its heart the substance Lister was about to use on the monarch: carbolic acid.

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