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Crooked Timber: The life of Calvin Wells (1908-1978)

Waldron, T; (2014) Crooked Timber: The life of Calvin Wells (1908-1978). Journal of Medical Biography , 22 (2) 82 - 89. 10.1177/0967772013479734. Green open access

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Calvin Wells was the leading palaeopathologist in the UK between the later 1950s and the early 1970s. He studied medicine at University College London but failed in anatomy and qualified in 1933 with the Conjoint Diploma (MRCS, LRCP). After qualification he began to study obstetrics and after war service in the RAMC he settled in Norfolk (UK), established a small general practice and took up palaeopathology. Although he was usually conservative in diagnosis he tended to over-interpret signs in the skeleton, often publishing descriptions that were more fiction than science. He held firm views on the way in which palaeopathology should be undertaken and in particular he resented the entry into the field of anthropologists without medical training. His major contributions to palaeopathology were related to the study of cremations and the introduction of the notion of pseudopathology, and his writings on these subjects have scarcely been improved upon since. He was extremely well read, warm and encouraging to those with archaeological or medical qualifications, but vituperative about those he disliked. His bone reports, which are a major proportion of his published output, generally were highly regarded but his writing is often marred by sexual innuendo and vulgarity which does his memory little credit.

Type: Article
Title: Crooked Timber: The life of Calvin Wells (1908-1978)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0967772013479734
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0967772013479734
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469521
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