Illness, especially fatal illness, in famous people is an interesting branch of medical history. It is often a study in detection based on slender strands of contemporary evidence, and may be little more than barely informed guesswork. More reliable information is often available concerning men of distinction and genius of recent times. Particular attention has been paid to the health of world political leaders and its possible effect on national and international affairs. One submission to this series was an account of the illness which caused the death of Gustav Mahler. He died from infective endocarditis before effective treatment was available.