In 1919, Sir William Osler was probably the best-known doctor in the English-speaking world. Canadian born and trained, he had a long and distinguished career, ending as Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University.

In July of 1919, at the age of 70, he developed a severe cough. He wrote to his sister-in-law in October: "There is nothing I do not know of the varieties & vagaries of coughs and coughing - the outcome is far away. Shunt the whole pharmacopoeia, except opium. It alone in some form does the job. What a comfort it has been!" 


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