Samuel Pepys, as a young man, developed a bladder stone and, by the age of 25 years, realised that only surgery could deliver him from his agony. The chances of success in an age that was ignorant of sepsis were slender, but he opted for surgery. The operation, carried out through the perineum without anaesthetic by a master barber surgeon, was successful and Pepys survived. Although left sterile, he was far from impotent and he went on to achieve fame and fortune as Secretary to the Navy and President of the Royal Society. His greatest fame came after his death with the publication of his diary, which was to become one of the best known and best loved books in the language.