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Greg Wells ~ John Hall's Little Book of Cures (circa 1630-35): a critical edition

My research:

My aim is to understand better the medical practice of John Hall, physician in Stratford upon Avon circa 1607-1635, and son-in-law of William Shakespeare. Shortly before his death Hall compiled a notebook in Latin recording nearly 200 of his cases. This was translated and published as Select Observations on English Bodies by James Cooke in 1657.

Cooke’s edited Hall’s text to make it more suitable as a textbook, so in some respects it is not an accurate version of the original. In particular, Cooke emphasised Hall’s originality and use of his own observations. In fact it is clear that Hall relied heavily on medical authorities, particularly Martin Ruland, Felix Plater, and Daniel Sennert.

My plan, a joint project in theCentre for the History ofMedicine and the Centre for Renaissance Studies, is to produce a new and complete translation of Halls notes. I hope to examine how an early modern practitioner experienced and integrated the different professional aspects of Historia (the previous written records) and Empirica (his own used of them in practice). Once the translation is completed, I shall provide a commentary putting it in the context of medical practice at the time, and comparing Hall’s original with Cook’s translation, to see what factors might have influenced his editorial decisions.


David Lines, Department of Italian and the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance
Claudia Stein, Department of History and the Centre for the History of Medicine

My Background:

I am a mature student, previously a consultant in public health in the NHS in Warwickshire. I qualified in South Africa and moved to Britain with my family after working for six years on a mission hospital in Zululand.

Academic Profile:

1971: M.B., Ch.B., University of Cape Town;

1985: Member of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal Colleges of Physicians;

2010: M.A. History of Medicine, University of Warwick.


Health, Healing and Society, Ravan Press, Johannesburg, 1974.

Contact Email:

Greg Wells

A page from Hall’s notes on his treatment of the Countess of Northamptonshire in 1622


British Library,Egerton MS 2065, The Casebook of Dr John Hall, ca.1635.

British Library,Egerton MS 2065, The Casebook of Dr John Hall, ca.1635.