Thomas Morris Publishes Award-Winning Book 'The Matter of the Heart'

Cover of Thomas Morris's 'The Matter of the Heart'Graduate of Christ Church and former Christ Church Cathedral chorister Thomas Morris has just published his award-winning book The Matter of the Heart, winner of an RSL Jerwood Award in 2015. The book was published on June 1 2017, and has already received excellent reviews from the likes of Melvyn Bragg, Mark Lawson, and the Sunday Times.

The RSL Jerwood Awards for Non-Fiction, judged by Jonathan Beckman, Jonathan Keates and Kate Summerscale, are presented to authors working on their first commissioned works of non-fiction. Thomas was awarded the top prize of £10,000 for The Matter of the Heart in 2015, when Jonathan  Keates described the book as ‘heart-searching, heart-stopping and heart-exalting’, and Jonathan Beckman summarised it as ‘a tale of dare-devil experimentation and supreme ingenuity’.

The Matter of the Heart covers the history of surgery on the heart, told through eleven landmark operations. It focuses both on the early history of study of the heart, when it was seen as a mysterious organ too complex to even contemplate operating on, to nineteenth-century breakthroughs when the secrets of the heart and its function started to be uncovered by pioneering surgeons, and cardiac surgery rapidly became an important element of lifesaving medicine. Particular insights into this remarkable field include a discussion of the first cardiac repair in 1896, the revolutionary ‘blue baby’ procedure to correct a heart defect in babies, and the very first human heart transplant fifty years ago. As well as being a history of operations, surgeons and patients, the book also takes a wider view, looking at how the heart works, how defects can be fixed, and how attitudes towards an organ that was once seen as untouchable have changed with the progress of modern medicine.

Penguin Books’ blurb describes the book as giving us ‘a view over the surgeon’s shoulder, showing us the heart’s inner workings and failings. It describes both a human story and a history of risk-taking that has ultimately saved millions of lives’.

Thomas was a chorister at the cathedral before returning to Oxford to study Music at Christ Church. Since then he has worked as a BBC radio producer, including 5 years spent as the producer of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time, and is now a full-time writer.

You can read more about the book on Thomas's website, and there are also more details on the Penguin website.