Biography and reference articles
(Please see the Notes at the bottom of this biography)
Vernon Coleman was educated at Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall, Staffs. He then spent a year as a Community Service Volunteer in Liverpool where he was the first of Alec Dickson’s ‘catalysts’. (Ref 1 below). He studied medicine at Birmingham Medical School and qualified as a doctor in 1970. He has worked both in hospitals and as a GP. He resigned from the health service on a matter of principle. (Ref 2 below).
Vernon Coleman has organised many campaigns concerning iatrogenesis, drug addiction and the abuse of animals and has given evidence to committees at the House of Commons and the House of Lords. For example, he gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures (2001-2) on Tuesday 12.2.02
Dr Coleman's campaigns have often proved successful. For example, after a 15 year campaign (which started in 1973) he eventually persuaded the British Government to introduce stricter controls governing the prescribing of benzodiazepine tranquillisers. (`Dr Vernon Coleman's articles, to which I refer with approval, raised concern about these important matters,' said the Parliamentary Secretary for Health in the House of Commons in 1988.) (Ref 3 below)
Dr Coleman has worked as a columnist for numerous national newspapers including The Sun, The Daily Star, The Sunday Express, Sunday Correspondent and The People. He once wrote three columns at the same time for national papers (he wrote them under three different names, Dr Duncan Scott in The Sunday People, Dr James in The Sun and Dr Vernon Coleman in the Daily Star). At the same time he was also writing weekly columns for the Evening Times in Glasgow and for the Sunday Scot. His syndicated columns have appeared in over 50 regional newspapers in the United Kingdom and his columns and articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. Dr Coleman resigned from The People in 2003 when the editor refused to print a column criticising the Government’s decision to start the Iraq War. (Ref 6 below)
He has contributed articles and stories to hundreds of other publications including The Sunday Times, Observer, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Punch, Woman, Woman's Own, The Lady, Spectator and British Medical Journal. He was the founding editor of the British Clinical Journal.For many years he wrote a monthly newsletter called Dr Vernon Coleman’s Health Letter. He has worked with the Open University and has lectured doctors and nurses on a variety of medical matters.
Vernon Coleman has presented numerous programmes on television and radio and was the original breakfast television doctor on TV AM. He was television's first agony uncle (on BBC1's The Afternoon Show) and presented three TV series based on his bestselling book Bodypower.
In the 1980s he wrote the algorithms for the first computerised health programmes - which sold around the world to those far-sighted individuals who had bought the world's first home computers. (Ref 4 and 5 below).
His books have been published in the UK by Arrow, Pan, Penguin, Corgi, Mandarin, Star, Piatkus, RKP, Thames and Hudson, Sidgwick and Jackson, Macmillan and many other leading publishing houses and translated into 25 languages. English language versions sell in the USA, Australia, Canada and South Africa as well as the UK. Several of his books have appeared on both the Sunday Times and Bookseller bestseller lists.
Altogether, he has written over 100 books which have, together, sold over two million copies in the UK alone. His self-published novel Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War has been turned into an award winning film (starring Pauline Collins, John Alderton and Peter Capaldi) and the book is, like many of his other novels, available in an audio version.
Vernon Coleman has co-written five books with his wife, Donna Antoinette Coleman and has, in addition, written numerous articles (and books) under a vast variety of pennames (many of which he has now forgotten).
He has never had a proper job (in the sense of working for someone else in regular, paid employment, with a cheque or pay packet at the end of the week or month) but he has had freelance and temporary employment in many forms. He has, for example, been employed as: magician's assistant, postman, fish delivery van driver, production line worker, disc jockey, chemical laboratory assistant, author, publisher, draughtsman, meals on wheels driver, feature writer, drama critic, book reviewer, columnist, surgeon, police surgeon, industrial medical officer, social worker, night club operator, property developer, magazine editor, general practitioner, private doctor, television presenter, radio presenter, agony aunt, university lecturer, casualty doctor and care home assistant. He has received numerous awards and was for some time a Professor of Holistic Medical Sciences at the Open International University based in Sri Lanka.
Vernon Coleman collects books and has a larger library than most towns. A list of his favourite authors would require another book. He has never been much of an athlete, though he once won a certificate for swimming a width of the public baths in Walsall (which was, at the time, in Staffordshire but has now, apparently, been moved elsewhere) and once swam a mile for charity (he took so long that everyone else had gone home by the time he finished). He doesn't like yappy dogs, big snarly dogs with saliva dripping from their fangs or people who think that wearing a uniform automatically gives them status and rights over everyone else. He likes trains, dislikes planes and used to like cars until spoilsports invented speed cameras, bus lanes and car parks where the spaces are so narrow that only the slimmest of vehicles will fit in. He is inordinately fond of cats, likes pens and notebooks and used to enjoy watching cricket until the authorities sold out and allowed people to paint slogans on the grass. His interests and hobbies include animals, books, photography, drawing, chess, backgammon, cinema, philately, billiards, sitting in cafés and on benches and collecting Napoleana and old books that were written and published before dust wrappers were invented. He likes log fires and bonfires, motor racing and music by Beethoven, Mozart and Mahler and dislikes politicians, bureaucrats and cauliflower cheese. He likes videos but loathes DVDs. He obtains enormous pleasure from watching birds, squirrels, badgers, foxes and other wildlife.
In real life Vernon Coleman has homes in England and France but in his heart he lives in the delightful if isolated village of Bilbury in Devon where he and his wife have designed for themselves a unique world to sustain and nourish them in these dark and difficult times. He enjoys malt whisky, toasted muffins and old films. He is devoted to Donna Antoinette who is the kindest, sweetest, most sensitive woman a man could hope to meet and who, as an undeserved but welcome bonus, makes the very best roast parsnips on the planet.
Reference Articles referring to Vernon Coleman
`Volunteer for Kirkby'
The Guardian, 14.5.1965
(Article re VC's work in Kirkby, Liverpool as a Community Service Volunteer in 1964-5)
`Bumbledom forced me to leave the NHS'
Vernon Coleman resigns as a GP after refusing to disclose confidential information on sick note forms.
`I'm Addicted To The Star'
The Star, 10.3.1988
Sample quote: `Dr Coleman has consistently called for rethinking on the drugs known as benzodiazepines. Now the Government's Committee on Safety of Medicines has reacted to Dr Coleman's campaign. They have issued stringent guidelines for the prescribing of the drugs. Mrs Currie (Health Minister) told a Commons standing committee that the Government acted because of Dr Coleman's columns in The Star. She said `Dr Coleman's articles, to which I refer with approval, raised concern about these important matters and I sent them to the appropriate bodies.'
`Medicine Becomes Computerised: Plug In Your Doctor.'
The Times, 29.3.1983
Sample quote: `When the children have finished playing the games on your Sinclair or Commodore Vic 20 computer, you can turn it to more practical purposes. For what is probably Britain's first home doctor programme for computers is now available. `Dr Vernon Coleman, one of the country's leading medical authors, has prepared the text for a remarkable set of six cassettes called The Home Doctor Series. Dr Coleman, author of the new book Bodypower, which is a new self-help approach to medicine, has turned his attention to computers.'
`Computer aided decision making in medicine'
British Medical Journal, 8.9.1984 and 27.10.1984
Editorial (and subsequent letter) discussing Vernon Coleman's computer software.
Financial Times magazine, 9.8.2003
Interview with VC after he resigned from The People.
Other interviews with Vernon Coleman
`Doctor with the Common Touch.'
Birmingham Post, 9.10.1984
Sample quote: `Dr Coleman has the golden gift of being able to sweeten the bitter pill of knowledge with a coating of humour, and of presenting revolutionary concepts in words everyone can understand.'
`Sacred Cows Beware: Vernon Coleman publishing again.'
The Scotsman, 6.12.1984
Sample quote: `Vernon Coleman's books combine straightforward advice with stern criticism of techniques, products or services which he believes to be a waste of time and money or which may cause actual harm.'
`Our Doctor Coleman Is Mustard'
The Sun, 29.6.1988
Sample quote: `Dr Coleman cuts like a scalpel through all the jargon to bring you fresh information on the medical matters that mean most to you...Dr Coleman's controversial views have often rocked the medical profession but that has never stopped him saying what he thinks.'
`The Sun's Medic reveals his all.'
Sample quote: `He clearly believes what he writes and nobody `not the editor of The Sun or anyone else' tells him what stance to take. And once he gets his teeth into an issue he will campaign in partisan and highly effective style.'
`Reading the mind between the lines.'
BMA News Review, November 1991
Sample quote: `Not someone to mince his words.'
BMA News Review, 21.2.1996
Interview with VC.
`The big league of self publishing.'
Daily Telegraph, 17.8.1996
Sample quote: `Dr Coleman is one of a growing band of go-it-alone novelists who have taken the risk of publishing their own books. Dr Coleman's books are published in 22 languages and he was published for many years by mainstream publishers like Penguin, Reed and Harper Collins, before going it alone.'
`Doctoring the books'
Sample quote: `He says there are three things in life worth doing: trying to change the world, trying to have fun and trying to make money. If you can do all three things at the same time then that's fantastic.'
Ode Magazine, July/August 2003
Sample quote: `Dr Vernon Coleman has made it his life's work to teach us about our self-healing abilities. The erudite Englishman wrote over 90 books on the subject.'
`You have been warned, Mr Blair.'
Spectator, 6.3.2004 and 20.3.2004
Sample quote: `He doesn't have an agent, a publisher, a distributor or a heap of remaindered copies reminding him he never earned out his advance, because he does all these jobs himself. As a result our doctor is completely independent, and can afford to stick two fingers up not only at medicine and mainstream publishing but also at Bush, Blair, Lord Hutton, those who want to surrender British sovereignty to a European superstate, the pharmaceutical industry, animal experimenters, Dr Atkins, Uncle Tom Cobley and everyone who eats meat.'
(Note the original article contained a number of errors which were corrected in a letter eventually published in The Spectator on 20.3.2004)
`Food for thought with a real live Maverick.'
Western Daily Press, 5.9.2006
Sample quote: `Simply a very good and genial individual and it’s a great pity there aren't more like him.'
`The doctor will see you now'
Sample quote: `He's frank, fearless and prolific. He's outrageous, outspoken and iconoclastic. A Vernon Coleman book will change your life...and may even save your life.'
Note 1 : Significant interviews with Vernon Coleman have appeared in Devon Life (`Vernon Coleman Scourge of the BMA.'), National Health Executive, (`An interview with Vernon Coleman'), The Therapist (`Vernon Coleman - the doctor's dilemma.') and The Flag (`Interview with Dr Vernon Coleman.')
A profile article which appeared in The Independent on Sunday on 6.4.1996, and which was entitled ‘Doctor on the Make’, was considered unreasonably prejudiced and libellous and contained so many inaccuracies that a lengthy correction appeared in the same newspaper on 14.4.96 (titled: ‘Portrait of a doctor in the doghouse was unfair’) . A full apology to Vernon Coleman, from the Editor, then appeared in the same newspaper on 21.4.96. (‘Apology to Vernon Coleman’). The original article is often quoted in scurrilous online biographies but the apology and corrections are never mentioned.
A curiously critical article entitled ‘Why I won’t be buying Vernon Coleman’s Oil Apocalypse’, which was published by an organisation called ‘Transition Culture’ in 2007, was written by an author who appears to have based his review on an advertisement. Shortly afterwards the author of the review published his own, rival book on the same subject – peak oil.
In the 1990s Vernon Coleman was severely criticised by the Press Complaints Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority for publishing articles and a book (‘Food for Thought’) proving that meat causes cancer. Both organisations refused to look at reference articles, published in medical journals, which were produced to support the claim. In both cases the complainant was the meat industry. In 2015 the World Health Organisation published an official warning that meat causes cancer.
Vernon Coleman’s campaigning books and articles on controversial issues (such as prescription drugs, vivisection, vaccination and the dangers of eating meat) have attracted attacks from many lobby groups and public relations staff. These attacks have resulted in numerous lies and unduly biased reviews appearing in various parts of the media.
Vernon Coleman is not on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In or any other social media site. There are fake sites which were set up without his knowledge or approval. The only web sites with which the author is connected are www.vernoncoleman.com, www.vernoncoleman.co.uk, www.vernoncoleman.net, www.vernoncoleman.org, www.vernoncoleman.uk and www.vernoncoleman.news