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Bush Doctor [Kindle Edition]

Dr Felix Bartlett , Dr Michael Bartlett , Jane Caiger-Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $8.00

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Book Description

This book is the memoirs of Dr Felix Bartlett. In it he gives a vivid picture of his childhood, a colourful, sometimes alarming account of medical training at a London teaching hospital, an insight into his often exciting and rewarding life in the Australian outback. He devotes a chapter to his special admiration for the ‘heroic women of the bush’.
The book concludes with Dr Bartlett’s return to England and the contrast between medical practice in the Australian outback and pre -WWI rural England.

REVIEW: “This unique book is a first-hand account of a rural New South Wales medical practice, written by one who was there over a century ago”. Royal Australasian College of Physicians News April 2012.



Dr. Felix Bartlett was born in 1855 in the English fishing port of Brixham, Devon.

In these memoirs he gives a vivid picture of his childhood, and describes the way of life of the hardy breed of trawlermen whose fleet of small craft work in the English Channel and the Atlantic, as far afield as Newfoundland and the Azores.

This is followed by a colourful, sometimes alarming account of medical training at a London teaching hospital in the very early days of major surgery, which followed the introduction of the first anaesthestics.

A major portion of the book then deals with his twenty years as the sole doctor in the little bush town of Cowra, Australia, where he falls in love with, and marries the daughter of one of the original (mainly Scots) settlers in the area.

It proves to be a hard, but often exciting and rewarding life, tackling single-handedly every kind of medical condition and emergency, often in the most isolated and primitive conditions, reached only after a desperate midnight gallop through thickly forested and rugged bush land.

Dr. Bartlett gives a compelling and humorous account of life in the little town, and of the varied and colourful characters whom he meets both socially and as patients.

In 1899, poor health following an episode of blood poisoning forces him to give up the practice, and return with his small family to England. Here he gradually regains his strength, and spends the remainder of his professional career as a country doctor in a Devonshire village.

He gives a fascinating account of the rigidly stratified social life of pre-WW I rural England, and compares it with the rough-and-ready individualism of the early Australian settlers. He speculates on the relative freedom from chronic disease in the new colony compared with the lot of the rural poor in England at that time.

This very readable and entertaining book has recently been edited for publication from Dr. Bartlett’s handwritten memoirs and diaries by two members of his extended family, one of them himself a medical practitioner.

Product Details

  • File Size: 801 KB
  • Print Length: 312 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AFBSWRC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,471,004 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book worth reading May 13, 2013
By Margf
Verified Purchase
A window into outback Australia in the late 19th. century Dr. Felix Bartlett's book "Bush Doctor" is fascinating reading for medical and lay people alike.
The book shows Dr.Bartlett as a resourceful and compassionate man of great integrity. In my opinion this book would make an excellent film or mini TV series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bush Doctor - entertaining historical account June 1, 2013
This is a great read from many points of view. The memoir of Dr Felix Bartlett edited by his grandson and great niece can be enjoyed as much for its entertaining anecdotes as for its record of medical matters in a small Australian rural community, specifically the growing town of Cowra NSW between 1881 - 1899. Good yarns about horses, snakes, dogs and wildlife, not forgetting that curse of the outdoor dunny, the red-back spider!

On the more serious side the book puts into perspective medical knowledge and practice of the times. This innovative doctor was London trained and returned every 7 years to Europe to update his knowledge, on one such occasion going to Paris to meet Louis Pasteur, and immediately dispatching the newly perfected diphtheria antitoxin to Cowra.

Social comment on life in England and Australia, reference to the Great War and the account of his growing up in a seafaring town on the coast of Devon in the 1850s and 60s all add up to rounded historical account of a man who lived a full and wonderful life giving unstinted care to others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By AJ
Following his medical training at St George's hospital in London, where a frock coat, a top hat and a neatly rolled umbrella were obligatory for every student, Felix Bartlett honed his practical skills in a very different environment. After travelling to Sydney, Australia, he ventured inland and in 1881 started a medical practice in the rural community of Cowra in New South Wales. Here Felix set up a small hospital and tended to the many and varied needs of the town and its surrounding area.

The challenges faced by a rural doctor during the late 19th century were considerable - ranging from the practicalities of transport, complications in childbirth, treating and containing epidemics of smallpox, pneumonia, typhoid and diphtheria and providing health education for the local population. Felix would travel on horseback for many miles, often in the darkness of night to tend to his patients. He risked his own health many times through the course of his work.

This book gives a fascinating insight into the everyday life of a community doctor at a time before so many of the medical advances that are now taken for granted.
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