Dear Doctor Cullen

Dr. William Cullen (1710-1790) was a Scottish physician and chemist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. This man, unknown to most perhaps, was one of the leading academics of the Scottish Enlightenment and one of the most important professors that the Edinburgh Medical School has ever seen.

However, Dr. Cullen is perhaps mostly remembered for his unique international mail-order medical business. During his career, Dr. Cullen received more than 3000 letters from people all over the world, seeking his advice on everything from pregnancy to obesity. This event, led by Professor David Purdie, actress Elayne Sharling and college librarian Iain Milne, looks into this practice and the man behind the letters.

The beautiful and spectacular Royal College of Physicians is a suitable venue for a show dedicated to one of the College’s most esteemed professors. As the three speakers take us through the life of Dr. Cullen and (more importantly) recite from letters both received and written by him the audience gains an insight into this remarkable man, and the generosity with which he offered his expertise. For the dazzling price of two guineas - about £250 in today’s money - the doctor would give his sincere reply; a reply, judging from his letters, that very often involved his patients travelling even further away from the Doctor himself.

Dear Doctor Cullen is an interesting event in that it informs us about a man that the people of Edinburgh ought to know just a little bit more about. Do not expect to be moved to tears or scared out of your chair – this isn’t that kind of spoken-word performance. However, the three speakers talk with warmth and humour and manage to make the story of a remarkable man who lived in the 1700s fun, interesting and relevant to people in the 21st century.

Reviews by Lene Korseberg

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Come to the spectacular RCPE Hall and hear Professor David Purdie, college librarian Iain Milne and actress Elayne Sharling blow the covers off Edinburgh Doctor William Cullen's 18th-century international mail-order, medical business. Be warned - blood-letting awaits!

Most Popular See More

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets