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Book one: Anatomy of a Building

A meditation on the architecture of the Royal College of Physicians, focusing particularly on its current home, a Grade I listed building designed by Sir Denys Lasdun. This book was written in 2014 – the centenary year of Lasdun’s birth, exactly 50 years after the opening of the building in 1964.

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Book two: A garden of medicinal plants

This book describes 50 plants from the Medicinal Garden at the Royal College of Physicians that are sources of ancient and modern medicines. It outlines their uses, discovery, history, mythology and the illnesses they treat or cause, sourced from the earliest herbals to modern pharmacopoeias and medical journals.

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Book three: Quacks, rogues and charlatans

This is a lively tour of some of the colourful characters and dubious cures that have littered the RCP’s 500-year history, and highlights the role the RCP has played in regulating the medical profession.

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Book four: Physicians and war

This is a brief exposition on aspects of the complex interface of war and medicine, and the crucial role played by the RCP and its physicians in the medicine of war. Medicine can profoundly change the fortunes of those engaged in war, and war also greatly changes medicine. It creates new diseases, leads to medical innovation and advances in therapy, and has also stimulated new approaches to the organisation of medical care.

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Book five: Curiosities from the College museum

This is an exploration of the Royal College of Physicians’ distinguished history through the unique objects in its museum’s collections. Over the centuries the College has accumulated a diverse array of ‘curiosities’ that illustrate its rich traditions and the lives of its distinguished fellows and members. The author, former RCP president Sir Richard Thompson, uses 50 of these items to draw an engaging portrait of an organisation with a proud and colourful past.

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Book six: Grave and learned men: the physicians 1518–1660

The author, Louella Vaughan, paints a vibrant illustration of the first 140 years of the Royal College of Physicians’ colourful history. By focusing on 50 important episodes and key players, this book brings to life the early years of the RCP, its first triumphs and the numerous challenges that it overcame to ensure its survival.

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Book eight: Physicians and their images

Author Ludmilla Jordanova has penned a fascinating exploration of medical portraits, and their meanings and signification. She reveals the richness of the College’s collection and some of the ways in which the portraits can be approached so as to deepen our understanding of the organisation and its history, and of portraiture as a genre.

Copies will be available early January.

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500 years of the Royal College of Physicians

The book shows the development of the RCP within a wider social landscape of great upheaval and thrilling innovation. The RCP has played a pivotal role in raising standards and shaping public health. This impressive large-format hardback tells the story of the RCP from its foundation and survival through life-changing revolutions in the world of medicine, to its position today as the international leading body for physicians, driving global improvement in the diagnoses of disease, the care of individual patients and the wider health of the population.

Expertly designed with striking photography and specially curated archival images, 500 years of the Royal College of Physicians will be a momentous commemoration of our quincentenary. We are proud to publish this beautifully illustrated anniversary book in conjunction with leading publisher Third Millennium.

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A rhyming alphabet of medicinal plants

By Dr Henry Oakeley

A new book from Dr Henry Oakeley, the Royal College of Physicians garden fellow, featuring some charming woodcuts and botanical images from the RCP's rare books collection.