Journal of the Penn Manuscript Collective


John Syng Dorsey (1783-1818) was a Philadelphia surgeon and the author of The Elements of Surgery (1813), the first American textbook of surgery. He was also the author of Poems, 1805-1818 (UPenn MS Coll. 251), a forty-page collection that reveals his interests in spirituality, the history of science, and classical and eighteenth-century English poetry. Decades after his death, his son Robert Ralston Dorsey (1808-1869) revised his father’s poems, identified classical sources with Latin and Italian quotations, and completed Dorsey’s final, unfinished poem. This annotated transcription and critical introduction analyzes Dorsey’s literary, scientific, and biblical allusions and contextualizes his Poems within early nineteenth-century literary history and Romantic science.

Institution Call Number

UPenn Ms. Coll 251

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.