Robert Burn's Illness Revisited Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • A careful review of Robert Burns's terminal illness, especially as documented in his correspondence, supports the widely held contention that death may have been due to subacute bacterial endocarditis secondary to chronic rheumatic heart disease. However, it is also possible that death have been caused by brucellosis or some non-infectious process such as malignant lymphoma. There is no evidence that Robert Burns suffered from either chronic alcoholism or venereal disease. The evidence that he may have died a doctor's martyr as a result of treatment with a mercury ointment is critically examined.

publication date

  • January 1982