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John Hall, A Stratford Physician: His Practice and Patients

The Combination of Authorities and Experience in Hall’s Work

Pericles, Prince of Tyre (c. 1607-8) may be the only work of Shakespeare’s to contain indications of his relationship with his son-in-law, in the description of medicine.

Cerimon the physician’s speech about his practice has been read as a description of an ideal physician (Pericles Sc. 12, lines 30-33): 

By turning o’er authorities, I have,
Together with my practice, made familiar
To me and to my aid the blest infusions
That dwells in vegetives, in metals, stones 

Just like Cerimon, Hall frequently borrowed from previous authorities and combined them with his own observations and prescriptions in his Little Book of Cures. An approach that is made more explicit by the reference in the title of his casebook to a work by an author he favoured: Martin Ruland the Elder (1569–1611). Ruland also advocated the pairing of authorities with practice as being the most useful method of physick.


A later facsimile of the title page to the 1609 edition of ‘The late, and much admired play, called Pericles, Prince of Tyre…’ by William Shakespeare. This play contains a description, spoken by the physician Cerimon, which of all of Shakespeare’s medical writing most closely mirrors the philosophy of medicine evident in Hall’s ‘Little Book of Cures’.