Angel of Death is alively and powerful account of our battle against smallpox, the only disease that mankind has successfully eradicated from the planet. By weaving previously unrecorded voices in with the personal experiences of colourful historical figures such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Edward Jenner, Gareth Williams brings alive one of the most exciting success stories in the history of medicine. His book also gives original and engaging insights into the anti-vaccination campaigns which remain active today, and into the many unlearned lessons of smallpox. Angel of Death will appeal to all those moved by the excitement of discovery and stories of people fighting against adversity, and to anyone interested in history or medicine.
Gareth Williams was born in Glasgow in 1952 and grew up in Belfast, where he was taught English by the poet Michael Longley.
He won an Open Scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge to read medicine and qualified as a doctor with Honours in 1977.
After junior posts in London and Geneva, he moved to Liverpool in 1988 and built up a research group that became internationally renowned for its work on diabetes and obesity. He became a Professor of Medicine in 1995. From 2003-8, he was Dean of Medicine in Bristol and remains there as Professor of Medicine, now focusing on medical education.
Gareth has published about 200 scientific papers, mostly on diabetes and obesity, and edited or written over 20 medical books. The Textbook of Diabetes and Handbook of Diabetes (both with John Pickup) are leading texts in the field and have won several prizes, including BMA Book of The Year. His less serious articles include a case report on Squirrel Nutkin and the use of chocolates to diagnose puberty - both of which have dogs as co-authors.
Inspired by Edward Jenner, who lived and practised nearby, Gareth wrote Angel of Death: the story of smallpox, during a year's sabbatical leave in 2009-10. Angel was published by Palgrave Macmillan in May 2010, leading to appearances on national and international radio and television, and at the Hay Literary Festival and many other events.
Angel of Death has been reviewed as "an astonishing book ... the best yet on the history of smallpox" and "wonderful ... vividly written ... an example of medical history at its absolute best" - and has just been shortlisted for the prestigious Wellcome Trust Book Prize 2010. You can hear Gareth talking about the book at: http://www.meettheauthor.co.uk/bookbites/1903.html
He is in demand as a speaker, on topics ranging from Edward Jenner and smallpox to the Loch Ness Monster. He has also been Public Orator at Bristol University for the conferment of several honorary degrees, including one awarded to Acker Bilk. A fluent French speaker, he is a former British President of the Anglo-French Medical Society and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Angers. His other interests include playing music (reputable and disreputable), cycling and writing fiction. His first novel, Cutting Edges, set in the front line of medical research, is currently setting off in search of a publisher.
Gareth lives in the Gloucestershire village of Rockhampton with his wife Caroline, children Tim and Jo, and two well-published Border collies. He is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Edward Jenner Museum, which will receive the royalties from sales of the Angel.