Charles Dickens could spot the shakes

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Charles Dickens was so good at describing neurological disease in his characters that the symptoms were used word-for-word in medical text books of the day, says an Australian neurologist.

The 19th century novelist's interpretations of diseases of the nervous system even predated formal medical classification, some by more than a century.

In a paper to be published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, Dr Kerrie Schoffer of the Austin Hospital in Melbourne says his observations have helped develop our modern understanding of neurological disorders.

"In Dickens's day, they didn't really understand much about these disorders, things like Tourette syndrome; there was no name for that and no understanding of the biological basis of it," she says.

Yet Dickens described details in his novel David Copperfield.

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