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Summary Article: Sacks, Oliver Wolf
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


♦ English neurologist and writer

Born in London, the son of physicians, he graduated from Oxford and studied for his medical degree at Middlesex Hospital. In 1960 he emigrated to the USA, and after further studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, he joined the staff of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City in 1965, becoming in 1985 professor of clinical neurology. He has written extensively on his experiences with patients, chronicling neurological conditions such as autism, Tourette's syndrome, amnesia and colour-blindness. His best-known works, Awakenings (1973) and The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (1985), are studies of neurological disorders couched in the form of narrative "clinical tales". Awakenings was adapted as a film with the same title, and by Harold Pinter as a play, A Kind of Alaska (1982); The Man who Mistook … became an opera by Michael Nyman in 1986 and a play by Peter Brook in 1995. In 1976 Sacks suffered a serious injury to his leg while mountaineering in Norway, and he wrote an account of the treatment, this time from the patient's point of view, in A Leg to Stand On (1984). Seeing Voices (1989) is a study of children deprived through deafness of the knowledge of language. Later works include An Anthropologist on Mars (1995), the autobiographical Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood (2001) and Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain(2007). He was awarded a CBE in 2008.

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011