Pharmacists in Literature


From A to X: A Story in Letters, by John Berger, features A’ida, a pharmacist whose husband is imprisoned for terrorism.

In The Angel With One Hundred Wings: A Tale from the Arabian Nights by Daniel Horch, the pharmacist Abulhassan ibn Thaher helps the hero and his love elope.

In Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, pharmacist Ave Maria Mulligan realises she isn’t who she thought she was, and lives happily ever after.

In Clock Without Hands by Carson McCullers, J.T. Malone is a pharmacist who is diagnosed with terminal leukaemia.

In Do No Harm by Gregg Luke, pharmacist Paul Randall thinks he’s starting a new life in a pretty little town. He is. He just hadn’t realised the local hospital would be conducting illegal experiments on people.

The John Rawlings series, by Deryn Lake, features the eponymous John Rawlings, who is an apothecary who also solves murders in eighteenth century London.

In Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi, the pharmacist (Scott Sanderson) is the love interest!

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert features Monsieur Homais, an apothecary. He is pompous and unpleasant, and encourages doctor Charles Bovary to operate on a patient with little hope of success. This destroys Bovary’s reputation when the operation fails and the patient’s leg then has to be removed.

In A Madness So Discreet, by Mindy McGinnis, the serial killer is a pharmacist (and also impotent and bullied by his mother).

In My Son, the Druggist by Marvin Kaye, Marty Gold, pharmacist, dispenses a drug for a patient – who promptly then dies of an allergic reaction to it, leaving him as a major beneficiary. He is then murdered.

The Owen Archer series, by Candace Robb.  The first book (The Apothecary Rose) sees Owen Archer undercover as an apothecary’s apprentice, investigating the deaths of two pilgrims. Was it murder, chance, or an error by the apothecary? It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that Owen ends up married to Lucie Wilton, the apothecary’s wife and an apprentice apothecary (the apothecary, Nicholas Wilton, dies). Lucie – eventually a Master Apothecary herself, remains as a character in the series.

In The Pale Horseby Agatha Christie, the murderer, Zachariah Osborne, is a pharmacist.

The Poisonous Seed is the first book in Linda Stratmann’s Frances Doughty series. Frances is that daughter of a pharmacist, William Doughty. A patient dies after taking a medicine obtained from Mr Doughty. Was it murder (and if so, by whom) or a dispensing error? Mr Doughty dies during the book.

Suffer the Little Children by Donna Leon has a conspiracy between pharmacists and doctors to defraud the health service.


Films, Plays & TV

Drop Dead Gorgeous features the creepy, perverted local pharmacist John Dough as one of the pageant judges.

Desperate Housewives has George Williams, who poisons another character’s husband (deliberately) by switching his medication.

Family Guy features Mort Goldman who is whiny, neurotic and has an interesting approach to the whole concept of patient confidentiality.

Murphy’s Romance features Murphy Jones who is a pharmacist nearing retirement, who falls for the heroine and steers business her way to support her fledgling horse ranch.

In Old California (the 1942 film of that name), pharmacist Tom Craig falls foul of the local mob and, having had one of his ‘tonics’ spiked, nearly gets lynched.

The Pharmacist (1933) about a day in the life of a hapless, browbeaten pharmacist who seems to be bullied by everyone at home and at work, and who also sells bootleg liquor.

The Pharmacist (2010) features Spencer, a pharmacist who sells narcotics illegally.

Pink String and Sealing Wax features the cruel Edward Sutton (pharmacist) whose son David supplies another character with poison so she can murder her husband.

Romeo and Juliet features The Apothecary (who doesn’t even get a name), who sells the poison with which Romeo kills himself.