The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him

By Mimi Baird with Eve Claxton

About the authors

Mimi Baird with Eve Claxton

Mimi Baird, author of He Wanted the Moon

Mimi Baird, a Bostonian, is a graduate of Colby Sawyer College.  After working at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she later moved to Woodstock, Vermont, where she worked as an office manager at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. There she met a surgeon who had once known her father, a meeting that prompted her quest to finally understand her father’s life and legacy. Mimi has two children and four grandchildren. This is her first book.

Eve Claxton, Author of He Wanted the Moon

Eve Claxton was born in London and moved to New York in 1995. She’s been instrumental in creating seven nonfiction books for major publishers and is the editor of The Book of Life, an anthology of the best memoir writing through the ages. Eve also produces radio for NPR and BBC Radio 4.

For He Wanted the Moon Eve worked with Mimi to edit and prepare her father’s manuscript for publication. She also collaborated with Mimi to tell the story of the discovery of the manuscript and Mimi’s journey to bring her late father’s work to light. You can read more about Mimi and Eve’s collaboration here.

For more about Eve and her work, visit her website.

Dr. Perry Baird of He Wanted the Moon

Perry Cossart Baird, Jr. was born on July 8, 1903 in Mexia, Texas. A brilliant student, Baird graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas in just three years and went on to attend Harvard Medical School. While in medical school, he published multiple articles in the American Journal of Physiology and graduated magna cum laude with the highest academic honors available. On Christmas Day, 1931, Baird married Margaretta Stewart Gibbons in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. The two went on to have two daughters: Mary (Mimi) Stewart, born in 1938, and Catherine Cossart in 1940.

Baird’s first hospitalization for a manic episode occurred in 1932, resulting in the rescindment of a planned appointment to chairman of dermatology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Despite the setback, Baird continued his research and studies, publishing in multiple medical journals and later opening his private practice in dermatology in 1934. As a graduate assistant in research at the Massachusetts General Hospital, he began experiments on the concept that a biochemical imbalance is found in individuals who are in a state of mania.

After experiencing another manic episode, Baird was admitted to McLean Hospital in the fall of 1934 and stepped away from his research. But in 1940, he resumed, beginning a correspondence with MGH’s Dr. Walter B. Cannon and drafting an article on the biochemical component of mania. In late 1943, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders accepted Baird’s article, “Biochemical Component of the Manic-Depressive Psychosis.” Upon its 1944 publication, Baird was a patient at Westborough State Hospital and was suffering from what we now know as bipolar disease.


Read Mimi Baird’s Q&A.