Fleming, Alexander | Penicillin: Its Practical Application

  • First edition, first printing of "the only book that Fleming prepared regarding his discovery of the antibiotic properties of penicillin" (Norman Library of Science and Medicine 800).

    Fleming made his discovery in 1928 and published his earliest paper on penicillin in 1929. But the substance was difficult to purify, and did not become available in large quantities until Howard Florey and Ernest Chain successfully mass-produced it at the beginning of the Second World War. It was during this conflict that penicillin proved its worth, successfully treating hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers.

    The present volume was published shortly after the war. The expectation was that penicillin would soon be available commercially, but "there was not yet an authoritative British book for the guidance of the practitioner in its use" (preface). It contains an introduction by Fleming on his discovery of penicillin and twenty-six other essays on the history, manufacture, and clinical use of the drug by "experienced and eminent men" who were among the earliest to experiment with and prescribe it. A key work on one of the most significant medical breakthroughs of the 20th century, published while the therapy was still "very young and rapidly evolving" (preface).

    Bibliography: Norman Library of Science & Medicine 800, Printing and the Mind of Man 420, Garrison-Morton medical bibliography 1933.

  • London: Butterworth & Co., Ltd., 1946.

    Octavo. Original green cloth, titles to spine gilt. Numerous diagrams and illustrations within the text, borders to boards blocked in blind. Neat pencilled price notes and two old booksellers’ catalogue notes tipped-in to the rear free endpaper. Binding rubbed along the edges with some small worn spots along the joints, corners bumped, spine faded, some spotting to the cloth, particularly on the lower board. A very good copy, the contents clean.