Dr Huxley’s Bequest

A History of Medicine in Thirteen Objects


Dr Huxley’s Bequest by Michelle Cooper

A mysterious bequest sends Rosy and Jaz on a race against time to identify thirteen strange and wonderful objects – which turn out to tell the story of medicine, from the superstitions of ancient Egypt to the modern-day ethical dilemmas of genetic testing.

Can unicorns cure leprosy?

What secrets of the brain did Michelangelo conceal in his Sistine Chapel paintings?

Did a zombie discover the cure for scurvy?

Does homeopathy actually work?

Why did an Australian scientist decide to drink dangerous bacteria?

Is grapefruit evil?

Did the bumps on Ned Kelly’s head predict his fate?

And how exactly did parachuting cats save a village from the plague?

An exploration of the beauty and power of scientific reasoning.
Creative non-fiction for thoughtful readers aged twelve years and up.

Read an excerpt from the book, visit the real places explored by Rosy and Jaz in the book, and download the teaching resources.
Learn about the Australian names, slang and cultural references used in the book here.

Buy the book here.
Download a high-resolution cover image here.

Reviews of Dr Huxley’s Bequest

"Intriguing and beautifully produced … Cooper approaches the history of medicine with the same eclectic verve, pace and off-beat imagination as she demonstrates in her historically based novels … the reader is positively bombarded with fascinating information."

Katharine England, Magpies Magazine

"Channelling Sherlock and Watson, Rosy and Jaz journey through the history of medicine … This thoroughly researched chronology of medicinal inventions, discoveries and disasters is presented in an interesting and engaging manner. Dr Huxley’s Bequest is a fascinating look at the role science, pseudo-science, and convenient accidents have had on the well-being of humanity."

Fiona Miller-Stevens, Reading Time

"…strong characters and a believable purpose combine with a deft writerly touch to produce an interesting and engaging narrative that educates and, as I mentioned, provides a positive perspective on research and the quest for knowledge, and this cannot be undervalued. I can see this being picked up by young readers for pleasure, but I would also commend it to teachers to consider as a class text, due to its quality and relevance to learning."

Tehani Croft, The Book Nut

"…this book offers something special – a compendium of skeptical conclusions on a wide variety of scientific and pseudoscientific topics. If you have teenage girls with an interest in science, or maybe teenage boys, or just know some teenagers, or you know some adults who should know better, then this book deserves a place on your shelf."

Tim Mendham, The Skeptic Magazine

"I learned something new on every page, but this was such a fun read, I never felt preached or lectured at -- this is a massive achievement for such an informative, educational book -- it never feels too educational! It's just like a very clever, funny person telling you loads of really interesting stories about medicine."

Kate Constable, author

"Recommended … The mystery technique is a fantastic way to tell the story of medicine from ancient Egyptian times to current genetic testing … Given the current STEM emphasis in education this book would be ideal in the library for over 12 year olds."

Ann Griffin, Read Plus

Dr Huxley’s Bequest: A History of Medicine in Thirteen Objects © Michelle Cooper 2017
ISBN 978 0 6481651 1 8 (ePub)
ISBN 978 0 6481651 2 5 (Kindle)
Published by FitzOsborne Press in November, 2017

ISBN 978 0 6481651 3 2 (2nd edition paperback)
Published by FitzOsborne Press in January 2018

Dr Huxley’s Bequest: Cover design by Nada Backovic. Hippocrates bust and Vesalius skeleton images from Wellcome Library, London (CC BY 4.0). Opium poppy public domain image from Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Missouri Botanical Garden, Peter H. Raven Library.