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About the book
  • Published: 5 April 2012
  • ISBN: 9781448138470
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288


William Harvey’s Revolutionary Idea

Winner of the Wellcome Trust Book Prize 2012, this is the vivid and visceral biography of William Harvey, the Renaissance anatomist who discovered the circulation of the blood.

“What I am really anxious to hear is the final cause of your monstrous fiction. For your false invention seems to have no purpose. What reason can you give me for the circulation of the blood?”

William Harvey’s theory of circulation was as controversial in its day as Copernicus’ idea that the earth revolved around the sun. Unleashing intellectual anarchy, derailing established ideas, & gaining currency far beyond the walls of the College of Physicians, Harvey’s revolutionary theory went on to permeate the culture and language of 17th century England.

Circulation charts the remarkable rise of the yeoman’s son who demolished beliefs held by anatomists since Roman times, going on to become arguably the greatest Englishman in the history of science after Darwin & Newton.

  • Pub date: 5 April 2012
  • ISBN: 9781448138470
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the Author

Thomas Wright

Thomas Wright was educated at Saint Thomas More School, Bedford and Magdalen College, Oxford. He is the author of Table Talk; the groundbreaking Oscar's Books, a biography of his hero Oscar Wilde through his reading; Circulation, a biography of William Harvey, which won the Wellcome Trust Book Prize in 2012. He lives in Oxford.

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Praise for Circulation

“A book that combines scholarly science with narrative excitement to spectacular effect”

Mark Lawson

“A concise, skilful and eloquent book”

Charles Nicholl, Guardian

“Thomas Wright's book opens brilliantly and bloodily and continues in the same vein...a captivating intellectually gripping journey into our country's scientific past”

Druin Burch, Mail on Sunday

“In Circulation, Wright tells a good story, warts and all”

Duncan Wu, Independent

“[An] acute, imaginative book”

John Carey, Sunday Times

“The little man of 'perpetual movement' has found a fine advocate in Thomas Wright, whose highly readable Circulation combines recent scholarship with more than a touch of drama”

Times Literary Supplement

“Thomas Wright's lucid biography...deftly puts Harvey into his cultural context”

Hermione Eyre, Prospect

“As soon as I started this book, I was gripped with curiosity”

William Leith, Spectator

“Thomas Wright's lively little book on Harvey's revolutionary idea is a panegyric to the man's whirring mind, and to the excitements of thinking more generally”

Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph

“Excellent and often bloodthirsty... A highly readable account of a great Englishman”


“A vivid biography of William Harvey, which reveals his complex character”

Patricia Fara, BBC History Magazine

“It’s a pretty gruesome story – told very well here by Thomas Wright”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“An engaging and lively account of an endlessly curious man”


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