Tag Archives: Mauritius Command

Was this the real Stephen Maturin?

Dr Granville

Portrait of A.B.Granville, by Alexander Craig (c.1840), from Wellcome Library

Some years ago, I belonged to a History of Medicine online discussion group.  Every few months, a query would arrive from a newbie asking what was the disease once known as the marthambles – and the questioner would immediately be outed as a Patrick O’Brian tragic, for it is one of many ailments successfully treated by Stephen Maturin in O’Brian’s highly popular Aubrey/Maturin novels, set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War.  The problem is, marthambles doesn’t exist.  Sometimes a historical novelist is allowed – whisper it quietly – to make things up! Continue reading