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(A short story of 2292 words)

William Harvey's Visitor

Historical Fiction

by Alwyn Marriage

In 1628, the English physician and anatomist, William Harvey, discovered the circulation of the blood. This story explores whether this great leap in medical knowledge might also be seen as a metaphor for something even more surprising.

William Harvey Esq was at his desk when God sidled in. Ungreeted, indeed unnoticed, God cleared the dirty coffee cups from the table, tidied up the tobacco pouch and ink - well, then set about laying a fire in the hearth. Still William Harvey’s head was bent in concentration over his papers: God is, after all, very easily missed.

It was Spring 1629, the year after Harvey’s momentous book, On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals, had exploded into the medical firmament to change the shape of that intellectual space for ever. Thought by many to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Harvey had never experienced what it was to be penniless and unknown. After medical training in the finest institutions in Europe, he had married the daughter of Queen Elizabeth’s physician and was now, himself, personal physician to King Charles. Perhaps such a charmed life should have been enough for him, but his daemon of intellectual curiosity had led him through circuitous paths until, at the heart of the labyrinth he had had no option but to challenge the age - old wisdom of Galen by publishing his own revolutionary theory that in all animals, including humans, the blood is pumped around the body by the heart...

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