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A. J. Cronin (1896–1981)

Author of The Citadel

89+ Works 5,810 Members 111 Reviews 12 Favorited

About the Author

A.J. (Archibald Joseph) Cronin was born in Cardross, Scotland on July 19, 1896. He was educated at the University of Glasgow Medical School and served as a surgeon in the Royal Navy during World War I. After the war, he investigated occupational diseases in the coal industry and worked as a general show more practitioner in Wales and London. His first novel, Hatter's Castle, written in 1931, was an immediate success, and Cronin gave up the practice of medicine to become a full-time author. Hatter's Castle was adapted into a film in 1941. His other works include Shannon's Way, The Judas Tree, A Song of Sixpence, and A Thing of Beauty. He drew on his medical background in writing his books, and his most popular character was Doctor Finlay, which provided the background for the television series, Doctor Finlay's Casebook. Many of his books were made into films including The Stars Look Down, The Citadel, The Keys of the Kingdom, and The Green Years. He died on January 6, 1981. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)


Works by A. J. Cronin

The Citadel (1937) 1,172 copies
The Keys of the Kingdom (1941) 853 copies
The Green Years (1944) 409 copies
Shannon's Way (1948) 296 copies
The Stars Look Down (1935) 284 copies
A Song of Sixpence (1964) 259 copies
Beyond This Place (1953) 255 copies
Hatter's Castle (1931) 235 copies
A Pocketful of Rye (1969) 207 copies
The Judas Tree (1961) 204 copies
A Thing of Beauty (1956) 184 copies
The Spanish Gardener (1950) 174 copies
The Northern Light (1958) 163 copies
Adventures in Two Worlds (1939) 126 copies
Grand Canary (1933) 100 copies
Lady with Carnations (1976) 98 copies
Vigil in the Night (1939) 75 copies
Three Loves (1932) 70 copies
Desmonde (1975) 65 copies
The Valorous Years (1940) 47 copies
The Native Doctor (1959) 35 copies
Doctor Finlay's Casebook (2010) 35 copies
Gracie Lindsay (1978) 34 copies
Enchanted Snow (1972) 22 copies
Kaleidoscope in "K" (1946) 22 copies
The Innkeeper's Wife (1958) 7 copies
Jupiter Laughs (1940) 6 copies
Escape from Fear (1954) 6 copies
Tutti i racconti (1971) 4 copies
Country Doctor (1935) 2 copies

Associated Works

Scottish Stories of Fantasy and Horror (1971) — Contributor — 44 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1956 v03 (1956) — Contributor — 35 copies
The Keys of the Kingdom [1944 film] (1944) — Original story — 30 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1961 v04 (1961) — Contributor — 24 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1953 v04 (1953) — Contributor — 15 copies
A Treasury of Doctor Stories (1946) — Contributor — 9 copies
The Citadel [1938 film] (2011) — Original story — 5 copies
Great Unsolved Crimes (1975) — Contributor — 4 copies
Gems from the Reader's Digest — Contributor — 4 copies
The Word Lives On: A Treasury of Spiritual Fiction (1951) — Contributor — 4 copies
The Keys of the Kingdom / Malevil / The Suitcases (1984) — Contributor — 3 copies
The Spanish Gardener [1956 film] (1956) — Writer — 2 copies
Best Railway Stories (1969) — Contributor — 2 copies


Common Knowledge



Read for our local book group. Compelling reading at times, about a young, idealistic doctor starting out in a Welsh mining village in the 1920s. He learns a lot, makes friends (and enemies), and his idealistic principles are challenged - even abandoned for a while.

The characters and situations are realistic, based on the author's own experiences, and demonstrate some of the horrors of medicine before the NHS. I didn't really relate to any of the characters, and found some of the events shocking, but definitely think it's worth reading.

I'd give it three and three-quarters stars if I could!

Longer review here: https://suesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2024/03/the-citadel-by-aj-cronin.html
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SueinCyprus | 23 other reviews | Mar 2, 2024 |
I recall this was about a Catholic priest, his youth and work in China. I believe I enjoyed this book.
mykl-s | 20 other reviews | Aug 12, 2023 |
"If we go on trying to make out that everything's wrong outside the profession and everything is right within, it means the death of scientific progress."

First published in 1937 and set during the interwar years 'The Citadel' shines a light on the medical establishment in Britain at the time through the eyes of a young newly qualified Scottish doctor. Andrew Manson, takes up his first clinical post as an assistant to a GP in a small Welsh mining community where disease and poverty is rife, sanitation poor and operations are performed on kitchen tables before moving as his career progresses to the fashionable, greedy world of London with its private clinics, hypochondriac patients and rich awards. Manson arrives with a bagful of enthusiasm and idealism but soon comes face to face with the realism of his chosen profession.

Archibald Joseph Cronin was born in Cardross, Dunbartonshire, in 1896, and was destined either for the Church or medicine: he chose medicine. Cronin trained in various hospitals in Scotland, Dublin and South Wales. He was appointed as a Medical Inspector of Mines and reported on coal-dust inhalation and lung disease before subsequently moving to London and private practice. This novel is therefore semi-autobiographical in nature as he draws on his professional career as a background.

The novel has two specific areas of emphasis. Firstly, the work of the doctor in a poor community and how his work is transformed when he moves to a city and private practice. Secondly the competence, or incompetence, of doctors and their need to keep their skills up to date. Manson is often critical of the quality of other doctors' work.

In the small Welsh mining village, the men, as miners, can change doctors through a company insurance scheme whenever they wish, their choices often based on the doctor's own popularity rather than his ability. Manson is outspoken and critical of the way in which the service is funded which lands him in trouble.

But the climax comes when Manson is asked to treat the daughter of an old friend who has tuberculosis. Manson has her admitted to an established London hospital but when the treatment provided there shows no signs of benefit he recommends a new therapy. His senior disagrees and Manson removes his young patient to a newly built hospital with an un-medically qualified boss. However, despite the success of the treatment and his patient's subsequent discharge, when Manson’s London colleagues hear about this he is referred to the General Medical Council (GMC) to be investigated with the potential outcome of him being struck off the Medical Register.

In many respects this novel is a creature of its time. Cronin identified many of the issues in clinical practice which needed to be tackled , including better supervision of young doctors, postgraduate education programmes and the novel's popularity along with the cinematic portrayal helped towards the establishment of the NHS a decade or so later. However, some of the issues, in particular affordability, are still relevant today.

This isn't perhaps great literature. Manson despite his revolutionary zeal isn't always a particularly likeable character, he is often, selfish, arrogant and uncaring, but Cronin still manages to present an interesting and entertaining story. I am always interested in novels that feature social history and this book had the power to change public attitudes and behaviour towards health as well as professional thinking and for that reason alone deserves to be more widely read today.
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PilgrimJess | 23 other reviews | Feb 1, 2023 |
Set in the 1920s in a Welsh mining town, protagonist Andrew Manson is a newly qualified Doctor of Medicine. He is idealistic and eager to make his mark. He wants to change the traditional ineffective methods and use the latest science in his treatments. He becomes fascinated with analyzing the source of miners’ lung diseases. As he moves upward in his career, he loses his idealism and becomes more interested in accumulating wealth. His wife grows disillusioned, wondering what happened to the man she married.

This book explores ethics in the medical profession. It portrays doctors of varying competence. Some keep up their skills and others become wedded to traditional remedies. Some compete vigorously with other doctors. The story contains descriptions of diagnoses, medical procedures, and surgeries. Published in 1937, this book was helpful in pointing out changes needed in the UK’s health care system.
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Castlelass | 23 other reviews | Oct 30, 2022 |



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