Nick Black

Author of The Honourable Doctor



My career has been spent studying health care, helping students understand how to improve its quality, and advising national policymakers.  I’ve been motivated by the desire to enhance public understanding of health, disease and health care. This started in the 1980s when I was one of the main authors of eight popular Open University books, Health & Disease. It continued in 2006 with Walking London’s Medical History which, through seven walks, I revealed how health care policies in England developed.

My key aim has always been to reveal the challenges and uncertainties we face. Alongside writing books and teaching thousands of post-graduate students from all around the world, my research focused on strengthening the voice and influence of patients and developing the accountability of professionals, managers and policy-makers, for which I was knighted in 2019.

Throughout, I’ve been drawn to history and how vital it is that we understand the past if we’re to successfully shape the future. Unlike much scientific research, delving into historical records often leaves large areas of blank canvas where only our imagination can make sense of what happened. After a career of non-fiction publishing, I’ve found the possibilities offered by fiction writing exhilarating and liberating. It’s the final step on my journey to try and increase the public understanding of health care.

Living in London and Herne Bay with my wife Pippa and two black cats, I continue to enjoy the privilege of teaching at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and contributing to current discussions and debates about health and care services in England.

Contact me

My latest books

My debut novel

The Honourable Doctor

Westminster Hall, 13 December 1828. Midnight.

Thousands are massed outside. Newspapers are holding their presses.

James Lambert, a young apothecary-surgeon, has accused a leading surgeon at Guy’s Hospital of killing a patient. Never before has a doctor’s competence been challenged in a court.

What drove him to take on the medical establishment, risking everything he’d always wanted?

For two centuries his contribution to the making of modern health care has lain unrecognised.

This novel, based on true events, tells his extraordinary story.

“Scrupulous, scientific, tender, revelatory.  A sad yet powerful story.”

Nick Coleman, author The Train in the Night


Walking London’s Medical History

Second Edition

Winner of BMA Annual Book Award and Society of Authors Award

This definitive guide to the fascinating history of health care from medieval times to the present day features seven walks in Central London, each with a key medical theme, and a tour of Kent.

By visiting the buildings where key events unfolded, you can transport yourself back in time while gaining an understanding of the continuing challenges that we face to improve modern health care.

This is the perfect guide for anyone with a passion for urban walks, the history of London and, of course, medicine.


“Anyone interested in its unwholesome and insalubrious past will wish to read this book. It is an anatomy upon the historical body of London.”

Peter Ackroyd