Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
How old is dyslexia? © Alamy

How old is dyslexia?

Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

It’s a widely recognised condition today, but the first reports of dyslexia weren't made until the late 19th Century.

Asked by: Lydia Rae Stephenson, Staffordshire


Many sources will tell you that the first case was reported in 1896 by the English family doctor W. Pringle Morgan, who described a 14-year-old boy called Percy with “word blindness”. Morgan noted how, despite his intelligence, Percy struggled to read.

However, the first use of the term ‘dyslexia’ was actually by the German opthalmologist Rudolf Berlin in 1887, in his case report of a boy with problems learning to read and write.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.


Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.


Sponsored content