Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Willis, Robert (1799-1878)

1048833Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 62 — Willis, Robert (1799-1878)1900Norman Moore

WILLIS, ROBERT (1799–1878), medical writer, was born in Scotland in 1799, and in 1819 graduated M.D. in the university of Edinburgh. He became a member of the College of Surgeons of England in 1823, then began practice as a surgeon in London, and was in 1837 admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians. In 1827, on the suggestion of John Abernethy (1764–1831) [q. v.], he was appointed librarian of the newly formed library of the College of Surgeons, and held office till June 1845, after which he went to live at Barnes in Surrey, and there practised till his death. He translated in 1826 Gaspard Spurzheim's ‘Anatomy of the Brain,’ in 1835 Pierre Rayer's valuable treatise on diseases of the skin, and in 1844 Karl F. H. Marx's ‘On the Decrease of Disease’ and Rudolph Wagner's ‘Elements of Physiology.’ His chief original medical works were ‘Urinary Diseases and their Treatment,’ published in 1838; ‘Illustrations of Cutaneous Disease’ in 1841; and ‘On the Treatment of Stone in the Bladder’ in 1842. His practical knowledge of disease was small, and the preparation of works for the press his more congenial occupation. His translation of the works of William Harvey (1578–1657) [q. v.] was published by the Sydenham Society in 1847. In 1877 he published an historical study entitled ‘Servetus and Calvin,’ and in 1878 ‘William Harvey: a History of the Discovery of the Circulation,’ a work containing some facts not to be found in earlier lives of Harvey. He died at Barnes on 21 Sept. 1878.

[Lancet, 12 Oct. 1878; Works.]

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