What Did I Die Of?

The Deaths of Parnell, Wilde, Synge and Other Literary Pathologies

By: J.B. Lyons

Publication Date: January 1991


What Did I Die Of?: The Deaths of Parnell, Wilde, Synge and Other Literary Pathologies by J.B. Lyons

Medicine and literature are the unifying strands in this skilfully wrought tapestry of Irish biographical portraiture.

What Did I Die Of? delineates the pioneering 18th-century Limerick surgeon Sylvester O’Halloran, his contemporary Oliver Goldsmith MD, Dublin’s Milton editor Edward Hill, and the polymath Sir William Wilde; the deaths respectively of his celebrated son, Oscar, Charles Stewart Parnell and J.M. Synge are anatomized, as are the lives of the forgotten scholar John Freeman Knott, the soldier-poet Tom Kettle and the northern Irish medievalist Helen Waddell. The volume concludes with James Joyce and Malcolm Lowry, unlikely but fascinating bedfellows, in a sympathetic study of alcoholism.

Erudite yet entertaining, this sparkling collection of essays by Dublin’s leading medical historian combines literature with science in a delightfully peripatetic excursion through Irish history.


J.B Lyons was born in Co. Mayo in 1922. He went to Castleknock College and later studied medicine in UCD. He is the author of What Did I Die Of? and wrote many medical history books and biographies. He died in 2007.



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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 135 × 215 mm
Publication Date

January 1991


Paperback, 248pp