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Microbes and the Fetlar Man: The Life of Sir William Watson Cheyne
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By Coutts, Jane
ISBN 1846220610
Hardback  568 pages
Published 20 August 2015
UK Price £35.00   
US Price $60.00   

The life of Sir William Watson Cheyne spanned the flamboyant era of colonial expansion and some of the most important medical developments of the 19th century. His own role in these advances - as an eminent surgeon, an early researcher in medical bacteriology, a staunch ally of Lord Lister, an MP, and an intrepid traveller - has not previously been studied in depth. Fittingly for a man of meticulous detail, yet with a restless and pioneering imagination, his extraordinary story emerges from a fascinating mix of family and community memory and detailed archival research. Added to this resource is the sheer wonder of the digitisation of photographs and glass lantern slides from the family home - whereby faded sepia and scratched surfaces revive the 'ghosts' who took tea on the lawns of Leagarth House or served in the medical units of the Boer War. Many of these rare images are reproduced in the biography.

When the author, then the manager of the museum on the remote Shetland island of Fetlar, first began to research 'Sir Watson' in 1999, she imagined 'in some small way ... restoring him to his rightful place in history'. She has surpassed this, both for readers of biography and for social historians, not only those researching the history of medicine.

Shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish Research book of the Year 2015/

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