Richard Gordon

Richard Gordon, an English surgeon and anaesthetist, born Gordon Stanley Ostlere on September 15, 1921 known for his hilarious “Doctor” novel series easily qualifies for the eulogy of a second Wodehouse or “Wodehouse of the General Hospitals”!

Richard GordonIn addition to his ‘Doctor’ books, Richard Gordon is known for seven films and long-running television series inspired by his famous books. He worked as an anaesthetist, ship’s surgeon and then as an assistant editor of the British Medical Journal before leaving medical practice in 1952 to take up writing full time. Many of his books are based on his experiences in the medical profession and are all told with wry wit and candid humour that have become his hallmark. He is most famous for a long series of comic novels on a medical theme starting with Doctor in the House, and the subsequent film, television and stage adaptations. His The Alarming History of Medicine was published in 1993, and he followed this with The Alarming History of Sex.

Here are some choice nuggets from the novels of Richard Gordon:

  • … my profession, which grotesquely combines the servitude of a lackey with the authority of a saint, the tenderness of a bride with the steeliness of an assassin, scholarship with scholar, sorcery with science, and handicraft with hocus-pocus.
  • I have reached the age when my hairline can recede no further, but my waistline enjoys infinite possibilities of advancement.
  • He was Churchford’s most successful GP, and like successful people everywhere, was better at the politics of his occupation than its performance.
  • Several other Dr. Lonelyhearts share their raffish subculture of medicine, living more skittishly off printer’s ink than patients’ blood
  • Just like they buy slimming books and feel slim. People seldom read what they buy. Or buy what they read. They get it free from the public library.
  • That weekend I was called as GP to the Lonelyheart’s six-year-old son, who had bellyache. Like all medical parents they suspected appendicitis, peritonitis, or nasty abdominal conditions that were never seen outside examination papers.
  • The Watsons were young, active, unimaginatively comfortable, conventionally hedonistic, fastidiously genteel, unaffectedly tasteless and innocently smug.
  • Once a girl’s endocrine glands take off at puberty, they woosh like an airliner’s jets until landing on the sunset-flowing tarmac of the menopause, barring equally unfortunate accidents.
  • Cookery is part of the female erotic drive.
  • Oh, pooh pooh! There’s more to marriage than four bare legs in bed or two pairs of knives and forks on a table.
  • If none of us were sex objects on the appropriate occasion the human race would be extinct animals.
  • All this nonsense about chairpersons, watchpersons and God’s sublime achievement is person…”
  • I’d have imagined boobs as boringly commonplace to you (doctors) as udders to farmers.
  • One morning a colonel who commands an ammunition depot discovers only forty nine machine guns, not fifty. To spare himself unending trouble with the War Office, perhaps his pay stopped, possibly a court martial, the wily officer indents for the replacement of a broken machine-gun tripod, which is sent without question. The next month for the replacement of a gun sight, then ammunition feed, recoil plate, trigger assembly, until by his retirement from the army he had reconstructed the entire machine gun.
  • Like the respectable wife seduced from a good, decent, adoring husband by a glamorous lover who turns out to be a useless, unresponsive homosexual.
  • Doctors have to look up too many fundamental orifices.

~ From “Doctor on the Ball

  • “…a couple of takeover bidders who developed a neurosis when they attempted to take over each other.”
  • “Up at six, starvation diet, cold bath, and readings from the classics in the evenings. It’s remarkable the change you can see in a managing director in a fortnight.”
  • “he would probably charge for the use of force of gravity as well.”
  • “She turned up her eyes to full candle power.”
  • “retired from service but still with a wife a nd government to support”
  • “Do you always obey orders?
    Not when I don’t.”
  • “… whose moral stature I respect about as much as a second-hand car salesman’s, and whose earning capacity strikes me as rather inferior to a well-trained village idiot”
  • “You let people push you around quite unthinkingly like a revolving door”
  • “A beard doesn’t lend a man character. It expresses it.”

~ From “Doctor in The Swim

  • “I wouldn’t take the word of a psychiatrist even on the suitability of a fish to water”

~ From Doctor on the Boil

3 thoughts on “Richard Gordon

  1. Indira Valson

    Humour crosses all borders ,across seas and people. from a community of doctors, I have started feeling that Richard Gordon’s books should be a part of the Medical curriculum.

  2. Heather Boak


    I have an inquiry for the author Robert Gordon, featured on this blog on this page:

    Is Mr. Gordon an administrator of this blog, or does the admin have any contact information for that author?

    Heather Boak
    Assistant to Otto Penzler
    The Mysterious Bookshop
    58 Warren Street
    New York, NY 10007

  3. S.K

    Hi, Mr. Boak,

    I or my site doesn’t have any connection with Dr. Gordon.
    I am just a fan of Dr. Gordon’s books.
    Sorry I’m not able to be of any help.
    And your bookshop is very interesting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *