Hoax Archive: Time Periods
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Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis
The December 13, 1884 issue of Medical News included a letter from a correspondent who identified himself as Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis. The letter described "an uncommon form of vaginismus" that the doctor had been summoned to treat. Apparently a maid had experienced a severe vaginal spasm while engaged in sexual intercourse. Consequently her lover, the coachman, became unable to remove himself from inside of her. Dr. Davis wrote that he relaxed the woman with chloroform and managed to separate the unhappy couple.
Sir William Osler
Sir William Osler
In reality, this medical case never occurred, nor was its author, Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis, a real person. He was the pseudonym of William Osler (1849-1919), who is regarded as one of the most highly respected figures in modern medical history. Dr. Osler served for many years as Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and was instrumental in founding the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City. But throughout his illustrious career he submitted letters to medical journals under the pseudonym of Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis.
These letters often dealt with sexual subjects, such as his 1903 letter to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal titled "Peyronie's DiseaseStrabisme du Penis" describing "an old codger" who experienced "a most remarkable change in his yard." Apparently these bizarre (and fictitious) sexual case histories were an expression of the mischievous sense of humor lurking behind the respectable façade of the famous doctor.
Links and References
- Jarcho, Saul. "Some Hoaxes in the Medical Literature". Bulletin of the History of Medicine. Vol. 33. 1959. p.342-347.
- Tigertt, William D. "An Annotated Life Of Egerton Yorrick Davis, M.D., An Intimate Of Sir William Osler". Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 1983 38(3): 259-297.
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