©Wellcome Library, London

Stethoscopy won acclaim amongst the progressive medical fraternity and medical students flocked to Paris to learn Laënnec's technique. Older doctors were less certain. In George Eliot's (1819-1880) novel, Middlemarch, set in provincial England of the 1830s, Dr Tertius Lydgate returns from his medical training in Paris singing the praises of this new-fangled foreign ‘toy', to the irritation of his stick-in-the-mud colleagues. Laënnec himself died of tuberculosis, the very disease which the stethoscope helped to diagnose.

After a mural in the Sorbonne by T Chartran.