James Parkinson, son of an apothecary and surgeon, was born in 1755 in Shoreditch, London.1 Little is known of his school days according to the excellent biography by McMenemey,1 but from Parkinson's small book, The Hospital Pupil, it may be assumed that his instruction included Latin, Greek, natural philosophy, and shorthand, subjects recommended by Parkinson early in the 19th century as proper basic tools for a physician. He studied and assisted his father, and most likely took over the paternal practice before his father died in 1784. The following year, Parkinson attended John Hunter's lectures on surgery and recorded them in shorthand. They were transcribed and published, in turn, by his son half a century later.
In the closing years of the 18th century, Parkinson's interests were divided successfully between social reform and the practice of medicine. The critical events associated with the French and American revolutions and