Collection of the month – Charles Wilcocks

As we enter into February and Valentine’s Day approaches, I decided to research a collection that included information on the heart. What I found was a fascinating collection that has been chosen to be the collection of the month here at the LSHTM archives. This collection is the Dr. Charles Wilcocks (1896-1977) collection. The collection is large, and includes publications, reports and correspondence, but I wanted to focus on a particular series within this collection, which includes scripts written by Dr. Wilcocks for BBC medical programmes from the 1960s. During this time, Dr. Wilcocks worked with the BBC’s Overseas Service, and was a writer and narrator of many medical programmes for the broadcaster. Included within this vast array of scripts is interesting research, advancements and information relating to the heart.

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Crest from the BBC attached to many of Dr. Wilcocks’ scripts

Dr. Wilcocks’ ability to write about medical procedures, research and advancements in an understandable and concise way is admirable. The short scripts are a quick and fun read to learn more of the many topics Dr. Wilcocks covered.

Written for the series: ‘The ABC of Physiology’, Dr. Wilcocks wrote a wonderful introduction of the function of the heart to educate listeners of the programme, and even describes how diet can affect blood, which then affects breath!

‘The carbon dioxide from the blood passes across these membranes and is eliminated in the breath, and at the same time oxygen from the outside air passes into the blood, to be carried throughout the body to do its necessary work. Some other substances which collect in the blood are also removed in the breath, for instance alcohol and gases formed by ghee, garlic and onions in the diet.’ – From ‘The Heart’ written for the series: ‘The ABC of Physiology’ (GB 0809 Wilcocks/02/09/01)

Some highlights of topics about the heart within the collection include:

  • New use of a catheter for heart patients (GB 0809 Wilcocks/02/12/08)
  • New surgical methods to help young patients with congenital disorders (GB 0809 Wilcocks/02/12/14)
  • Coronary thrombosis and the impact of our diets and lifestyles (GB 0809 Wilcocks/02/12/29)
  • The importance of organisations such as ‘The Chest and Heart Association’, (GB 0809 Wilcocks/02/12/33)

Some scripts in the collection include related news-clippings to offer further explanation and understanding of the topic written of in the script. An example of this is seen from the Guardian newspaper which describes the link between diabetes and heart attacks (coronary thrombosis).

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The Guardian, 13th of January 1966


Research and advancement for heart health is continuing here at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Current research by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes can be viewed here:

If interested in the wide variety of topics that Dr. Wilcocks writes of, and to learn more of Dr. Wilcocks, his background and his collection please see the archive catalogue here:

For more information or if you have any queries, please contact the LSHTM Archives at:

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