Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Vivisection through the eyes of Wilkie Collins, HG Wells and John Galsworthy
  1. Jill Felicity Durey
  1. School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jill Felicity Durey, School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup WA 6027, Western Australia, Australia; j.durey{at}


The article argues that, unlike Collins’ adamantly negative view towards vivisection in the latter half of the nineteenth century and approaching the end of his writing career and life, Wells and Galsworthy’s changing opinions responded to medical advances, reflected the dynamics of public opinion, and their own knowledge and experience at their time of writing. With its primary focus on Galsworthy, the study also explores the reactions of contemporary critics, readers, scientists and medical practitioners to these depictions of vivisection. Above all, the article argues that popular writers, particularly before modern multimedia, greatly influenced public attitudes towards changes in society, including medical research by vivisection. The ultimate change of heart towards vivisection by Nobel Prize winner Galsworthy, an indirect and eminent beneficiary of vivisection, the article concludes, would have boosted public acceptance and the cause of modern medicine.

  • english literature
  • literature and medicine
  • literary studies
  • veterinarian
  • medical ethics/bioethics

Data availability statement

There are no data in this work.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Collaborators There is no collaborator.

  • Contributors JFD is the sole author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.