Blogging from A to Z: T is for Treves, Frederick

AtoZ2019tenthAnnClaire continued to make polite conversation for a few minutes and then excused herself from the box. I could vaguely hear her speaking to the box attendant, reverting to her native French.

J’ai besoin de cracher,” she said to the woman … I need to vomit. She then remembered herself. “I am unwell. Could you send an usher to find a doctor for me?”

While all of this was going on, I sought to extricate myself from the less-than-desirable company of Madame de Chagny and the Harrington family. When I finally found a break in the conversation that would allow me to exit, I too sought the attendant.

“Sir,” she said, “the lady looked awfully pale and was ill. I found a doctor, sir, Doctor Treves. He’s seeing to the lady in the lounge.”

“Take me to her. I need to be there with her.” I raked my hand through my hair, for a change heedless of my appearance. “I’ll call for my carriage.”

The usher took me to the lounge, where Claire lay on a chaise longue. I introduced myself to the physician, a Doctor Sir Frederick Treves.

“She’s resting, sir. She’s been ill at her stomach. I’m a surgeon, but I don’t think she needs operating. I think she needs observation. I can arrange to admit her to the hospital, or to see her at home.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“I don’t know yet, my friend.” — Excerpt from In The Eye of The Beholder

Doctor Sir Frederick Treves, 1st Baronet, GCVO CH CB FRCS.

Dr. Sir Frederick Treves, public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

That’s quite a number of titles for a man who was the son of a Dorset upholsterer.  However, Treves, was also a renowned surgeon. He was famed for his frequent, successful treating of appendicitis — including that of Edward VII, with the assistance of Lord Lister (yes, the fellow who basically invented sterile technique.)

Among Treves’ many roles during the course of his career, he was appointed Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria and one of several Honorary Serjeants Surgeon to Edward VII. He served as a field medic during the second Boer War, and wrote a book about his experiences there. He wrote numerous other books, including medical textbooks, a travelogue of his native Dorsetshire, and several other volumes about his travels.

Treves is most often remembered for his work with Joseph Carey Merrick, thanks to Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal in “The Elephant Man.” Treves was the one who essentially rescued Merrick from work as a sideshow freak and arranged a home for him in the London Hospital.

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