Science Hunters: Joseph Bell, the man who inspired Sherlock Holmes

For this episode Science hunter, We left for Scotland to meet Joseph Bell: a brilliant surgeon with a great ability for observation and deduction. Among his students, young Arthur Conan Doyle is admiring and choosing to be inspired by his remarkable teacher to create the character of Sherlock Holmes.

You may never have heard his name, but Joseph Bell is known worldwide through his literary alter ego. Born in the mid-19th century, this surgeon is not only a talented doctor and teacher, but he is also a fearless observer.

His exceptional deduction skills, which allow him to anticipate the disorders and certain elements of his patients’ lives before it’s time to open their mouths, have earned him the acclaim of one of his most enthusiastic students : Arthur Conan Doyle. Joseph Bell’s story is the real Sherlock Holmes behind Baker Street, which we invite you to discover today.

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Transcription du podcast

Welcome to Science hunter, A podcast produced by Futura. My name is Emma, ​​and I will be your time guide on this trip. Today we left for Scotland to meet the man whose brilliant mind will inspire the character of Sherlock Holmes. you listen Science hunter, If you like this podcast, don’t hesitate to support us by sharing it Social Networks And by leaving us a note on distribution platforms.

We are in 1880. Echoes of voices and Metal Echo through the stone halls of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Light Of Soleil Filter through Sash windows Of the building, whileThe nurses And the doctors are busy from one room to another. In the entrance hall, a figure in silhouette thin The bus has burst into sick and injured. He is surrounded by a group of bright-eyed students, clearly hanging on his lips waiting for some extraordinary statement. Surgeon took a few steps towards a man sitting on Joseph Bell’s bench wood And elaborate on it for a moment. Nothing seems to specifically distinguish this patient from the others, but when the eminent professor opens his mouth, the audience remains silent:

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« Well my good boy, you served in the army.

– Yes sir.

– Recently vacation?

– Yes sir.

– From a Highland Regiment?

– Yes sir.

– Posted in Barbados?

– Yes sir. »

Turning to his students, whose eyes are now round like a saucer, Bell explains: You see, gentlemen, this man is quite respected, but he did not take off his hat, because it is so in the army. If he had got rid of it for a long time, he would have had time to get civil morse. his Wind Authoritarian readily suggests that he is Scottish. And as far as Barbados is concerned, we can see that he is sufferingFailpawan, Disease occurring in India and not England. In the group of students, Arthur Conan Doyle, 20 years old and full of ideas, listens with passion for this professor, whom he does not yet know will inspire him to be one of the greatest characters in fantasy.

Joseph Bell was born on December 2, 1837 in Edinburgh. He is a worthy descendant of a family of surgeons who have held prestigious positions in the medical community of the capital for 140 years. We are there especially Benjamin Bell, regarded as the first scientific surgeon of Scotland and Charles Bell, who names his facial paralysis. Although he was the last of his line to practice the profession, far from ending the family legend, Bell allowed him to prosper in the most amazing way.

The young man completed a brilliant education and graduated from the university in 1859 at the age of 21. He became an apprentice at the Royal Infirmary under the mentorship of Professor James Sim, named Napoleon. Surgery And assistants Robert Liston, whose objectionable operation we have already told in a previous episode. With a remarkable start to his career, Bell indulges in two of his passions, which already reflect his obvious taste for inquiry: dialectics, or branching, by its pronunciation and its vocabulary. Cooks; And the study of handwriting and what it can reveal about a person’s background and social status. At the age of 26, Bell gave his first lessons at Surgeon Square, where he quickly caused a sensation. It should be said that his Body Enough to be notable in itself. Tall, slim with shoulders, slim and a mat face surrounded by large sideburns, he has a pair of piercing gray eyes and walks with a lame gait. Diphtheria Which paralyzed one of his legs. With his formidable teaching skills, he is also a fearless observer. One of his students says:

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« He used to sit in his reception hall, his face was red like an Indian, and diagnose people who had time to open their mouths. He exposed them to them Symptoms, And even a description of his past life, almost never makes a mistake. »

This student is Conan Doyle, and he only has eyes for his mentor. The two also share a mutual admiration, with Bell describing his student as a young man with the best qualities:

« Eyes and ears that can see and hear, a memory that is capable of recording immediately and is able to recall impressions of the senses, and is a fantasy capable of weaving a theory, tying together a broken chain , Or unwrapping a tangent clue. These are the working tools of an accomplished diagnostician. »

At the end of his second year of study, Conan Doyle becomes one of Bell’s assistants, liking his sharp mind. He absorbs each of his words during the lesson that the professor gives in the crowded lecture hall. He can go into ecstasy with the other lucky students during his innings, and on the arbitrary cuts of management to achieve with only a simple swipe of the finger.The eye. Years later, the author describes how the exchange between Bell and the Scottish patient marked him. There is no doubt that such episodes led him to the most famous meeting in the world of literature: among other things, John Watson and Sherlock Holmes. A deep friendship is forged and continues between the two men and when Conan Doyle first published Detectives Adventures, he reminded Bell that Sherlock would be nothing without him. The resemblance between the two characters is so striking that it does not escape the author of Robert Louis Stevenson Dr. The Strange Case of Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, And he was also an alumnus of the Scottish Surgeon.

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When he is not at the royal family’s bedside, operating or teaching surgery, Bell is asked to lend his talents Profiler To the police. If we believe some sources, he also participated in the hunt for Jack the Ripper in 1888 with Scotland Yard. But he is ripping himself off as a leader who assesses the veracity of this story.

After a successful career, the beloved and acclaimed Joseph Bell died in a small village in Milton The bridge, 4 October, 1911. Not content with marking his time, he left a considerable legacy behind him, as much in the field of medicine as in crime and literature, unexpectedly. Conan Doyle is not the only person to draw inspiration from his teacher because on behalf of the comic book, Joan Suffer has created a whole series of fantastic adventures to her name. He is the patron of one of the three main characters in the Steampunk manga City Hall.

Very few people remember his name today, Joseph Bell would have been glad to know that it is alive in the pages of the narrative, visible to all, but recognizable only to those who know to observe.

Thanks for listening Science hunter. The credit for this podcast was produced by Patricia Chellad. For text and narration: Emma Hollen. Thanks to Boris Diniz and to Loulou Boneless, Who lends his voice to Scottish patient and Arthur Conan Doyle and François of the YouTube channel first do no harm, Which plays the role of Joseph Bell. If you appreciate our work, please do not hesitate to leave us a comment and five Stars To support us and improve our visibility on distribution platforms. You can subscribe to Spotify, Deezer and Apple Podcast to never miss an episode. As for me, I’ll see you soon for a future temporary expedition Science hunter. See you again soon !


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