Skip to main content

Free entry - please book

Tuesday to Saturday: 10am – 5pm

Oil painting of a man (John Hunter) in young-middle age: his hair is powdered but he isn't wearing a wig. He wears a collarless grey coat over a waistcoat in the same fabric, with a white stock at his neck. The coat is decorated with large grey buttons down the opening and around the edge of the cuff. The subject's right arm is crossed in front of him, and his right index finger points to a monkey skull held in his left hand. The scene is lit strongly from the upper left, leaving the left side of the subject in dark shadow, silhouetted against a light archway behind.

John Hunter (1728–1793), attributed to Johan Zoffany, 1765–85

John Hunter, the once and future surgeon

Illustrated talk by Wendy Moore, author of The Knife Man, the most recent biography of John Hunter, about the maverick 18th century surgeon anatomist John Hunter's life, work and relevance today.

Includes pre-talk access to the Hunterian Museum from 5.15pm.

27th July 2023


Sold out

Revered and feared in equal measure, John Hunter (1728-93) was the most famous surgeon of 18th-century London. Rich or poor, suffering Georgians knew that Hunter’s skills might save their lives but if he failed, their corpses could end up on his dissecting table, their bones and organs destined for display in his remarkable museum. Maverick medical pioneer, adored teacher, brilliant naturalist, Hunter was a key figure of the Enlightenment who transformed surgery, advanced biological understanding and even anticipated the evolutionary theories of Darwin. He provided inspiration both for Dr Jekyll and Dr Dolittle. But the extremes to which he went to pursue his scientific mission raised question marks then as now.

Wendy Moore is a journalist and author. She has written on medical issues for newspapers including The Times, Guardian and Observer, and for journals including the Lancet, BMJ and TLS. She is the author of five books on medical and social history. Her biography of John Hunter, The Knife Man: Blood, Body-Snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery, was published in 2005. Her most recent book, Endell Street: The Women who ran Britain’s Trailblazing Military Hospital, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

Visit Wendy Moore's website 

Wendy Moore, author

The Knife Man: Blood, Body-Snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery, 2005