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Shapeshifters

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Imprint: Wellcome Collection
Pages: 304
Subject: Health & Wellbeing, Philosophy & Ideas
Illustrations: Black and white images throughout

Shapeshifters

On Medicine & Human Change

Gavin Francis

The mysteries of human transformation brought lyrically to life by the bestselling author of Adventures in Human Being

Hardback(Preorder only)
9781781257739 (Published 3 May 2018)
£16.99

About the book

To be alive is to be in perpetual change: growing, healing, learning, aging. In Shapeshifters, award-winning writer and doctor Gavin Francis considers the transformations in mind and body that continue across the arc of human life.

Some of these changes we have little choice about. We can't avoid puberty, the menopause, or our hair turning grey. Others may be welcome milestones along our path - a much-wanted pregnancy, a cancer cured, or a long-awaited transition to another gender. We may find ourselves turning down dark paths, towards the cruel distortions of anorexia, or the shifting sands of memory loss. New technologies can upgrade us, and even without them our bodies can transform in rare, almost magical, ways - with gigantism, or the sun-sensitivity and facial hair that led porphyria sufferers, once upon a time, to be suspected as werewolves.

Medicine now has unprecedented power to alter our lives, but that power has limitations. As he helps patients face transformations both temporary and sustained, Francis draws on history, art, literature, myth and magic to show how the very essence of being human is change.

About the author

Gavin Francis is a GP, and the author of True North and Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins, which won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Costa Prize. He also writes for the Guardian, the Times, London Review of Books and Granta. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and children. Find him on Twitter @gavinfranc and online at www.gavinfrancis.com.Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library that aims to challenge how we think and feel about health. Inspired by the medical objects and curiosities collected by Henry Wellcome, it connects science, medicine, life and art. Wellcome Collection exhibitions, events and books explore a diverse range of subjects, including consciousness, forensic medicine, emotions, sexology, identity and death. wellcomecollection.org

Reviews

Stylish and exhilarating... from a wide-ranging mind and a profound humanity. With warmth and wit, Gavin Francis examines the body's strategies for survival and change, embedding his thoughts in a broad frame of reference from across human culture and history. Each piece is a pleasure to read, and in sum they are inspiring.

- Hilary Mantel

A wonderful series of meditations - clinical, anthropological, literary and deeply humane - on his patients and their illnesses.

- Henry Marsh

In this provocative and important book about our shared future, Francis ranges broadly to describe altered human states and selves. He delves into medical history, and, with equal ease, into medical case studies, to reveal how humans are capable of changing our bodies and minds.

- Siddhartha Mukherjee

Praise for Adventures in Human Being:
'A sober and beautiful book about the landscape of the human body: thought-provoking and eloquent.

- Hilary Mantel

So enthralling and so well written that it should win its own clutch of prizes... immensely engaging and often unexpected. His achievement here is to guide readers through his special landscape with such eloquence and subtlety.

- Sunday Times

Additional Information

Imprint: Wellcome Collection
Pages: 304
Subject: Health & Wellbeing, Philosophy & Ideas
Illustrations: Black and white images throughout
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