Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Flowers for Algernon
  1. Katharine Harding
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katharine Harding, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff CF14 4XW, UK; katharineharding{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

by Daniel Keyes. First published 1958. New York: Harcourt, Inc. Harvest Books, 2004.

Flowers for Algernon was the first occasion that our Neurology Book Club participants agreed that the book was too short! A classic of science fiction from 1958 (figure 1), it tells the story of Charlie, a man with learning difficulties who undergoes a procedure to enhance his intelligence. The procedure was tested on a mouse called Algernon but Charlie is the first human to have it. Unfortunately, it becomes apparent that the benefits of the procedure are not permanent, and as Charlie sees Algernon deteriorate he faces up to his own impending deterioration. The story is told as Charlie's diary, documenting his hopes, fears and experiences.

Figure 1

Book cover of Flowers for Algernon.

Its style is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury or other classics of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite this, it is not …

View Full Text


  • Twitter Follow Katharine Harding at @drkatharineh

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles

  • Editors' commentary
    Phil Smith Geraint N Fuller

Other content recommended for you