On medicine & human change

This fascinating collection cuts to the heart of existence.

Anita Sethi, Observer

Unreliable bodies and shifting symptoms are all in a day’s work for a GP.

In his years of practising, Gavin Francis has seen it all: the promising law student trapped under the spell of anorexia; the bodybuilder whose use of illegal steroids threatens his fertility; the teenager agonising over the perplexing physical dramas of puberty; and the surprisingly upbeat woman growing a horn in the centre of her forehead.

In Shapeshifters he draws on his patients’ bodily transformations, both welcome and unwelcome, bringing together case histories and accounts from the history of medicine, art, literature, myth and magic to show how the very essence of being human is change.

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About the author

Photograph of Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis is a GP, and the author of ‘True North’ and ‘Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins’, and and ‘Adventures in Human Being’, which won the Saltire Prize for Non-Fiction, was a BMA book of the year and the Observer Science Book of the Year. He also writes for the Guardian, the Times, London Review of Books and Granta.