- 2. Diseases of the brain and nervous system.
Information in the publisher's ledgers (now part of the Longman archive at the Reading University Library), indicates that the Reports was printed on commission at Bright's expense, in lots of from five to fifty copies as ordered. According to the ledgers, 243 copies of Vol. I and 171 copies of both parts of Vol. II were sold between 26 September 1827 and 5 September 1861, when the last remaining copies were destroyed in the fire that consumed Longman's premises at Paternoster Row.--J. Norman, 2006.
Richard Bright's Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases is most famous for its classic descriptions of nephrology and neuropathology. The first volume contains his descriptions of the complex of kidney disorders collectively and eponymically known as "Bright's disease." Bright was the first to distinguish between renal and cardiac edema, and the first to link renal edema and the presence of albumin in the urine with particular structural changes in the kidneys observed post-mortem. --
The second volume, divided into two parts, is entirely devoted to neuropathology, and contains detailed case histories illustrating brain tumors, hydrocephalus, ruptured intercranial aneurysm, hysteria, epilepsy, post-traumatic necrosis of the tips of the front and temporal lobes, and staining of the meninges in jaundice, as well as many other examples of congenital, neoplastic, infectious and vascular diseases of the brain. --
The work's thirty engraved plates, meticulously hand-colored to accord with Bright's descriptions of the specimens examined, are among the most beautiful of medical illustrations. Most were drawn by Frederick Richard Say, a distinguished portraitist whose painting of Bright now hangs in the Royal College of Physicians of London. "In order to achieve the most poignant reproductions of his post-mortem material, Bright was probably required to bring Say to the autopsy room whenever a specimen of interest arose. Say presumably produced a water color image of the specimen on the spot which was subsequently copied by the engraver" (Fine, p. 779). Say's father William, who produced the majority of the plates, used mezzotint variously combined with line-engraving, stipple, and soft-ground etching to create the printed images. --