The introduction sets the scene for the book, describing what medicine in early-nineteenth-century London was like. It also discusses Bell’s family—his mother, his brothers John and George—and the role that Edinburgh played in shaping him. Finally, it makes an argument for biography as an important historiographical tool. By following the life of Charles Bell, we can better appreciate the complexity of individuals’ social networks and politics, a complexity that is not captured by the sorts of political histories and prosopographies that have often been used to discuss reform.
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