Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fox, William Tilbury

FOX, WILLIAM TILBURY (1836–1879), physician, son of Luther Owen Fox, M.D., of Broughton, Winchester, was born in 1836, and entered the medical school of University College, London, in 1853. In 1857 he obtained the scholarship and gold medal in medicine at the M.B. examination of the university of London, and graduated M.D. in 1858. After a short period of general practice at Bayswater, he selected midwifery as a specialty, and was appointed physician-accoucheur to the Farringdon General Dispensary. At this period he wrote some good papers on obstetrical subjects, published in the ‘Transactions’ of the Obstetrical Society. Becoming interested in the study of microscopic fungi attacking the skin and hair, he wrote a book on the subject, and gradually became a specialist on dermatology. In 1864 he travelled in the East with the Earl of Hopetoun, but returned much enfeebled in health. The experience gained abroad was utilised in several works mentioned below. Settling in Sackville Street, Piccadilly, Fox soon acquired a large practice in dermatology. In 1866 he became physician to the skin department of Charing Cross Hospital, and not long after succeeded Dr. Hillier as physician to the same department of University College Hospital, where he established an excellent system of baths. He proved a good teacher and attracted many foreigners to his clinique. His book on ‘Skin Diseases,’ enlarged and more copiously illustrated in successive editions, made his name widely known, and his ‘Atlas’ finally established his reputation. He did not seek to revolutionise the treatment of his subject, but based his classification on Willan and Bateman's, while insisting on the value of general medical knowledge and insight to the dermatologist. Thus he had worthily gained a position second to few if any specialists, when his life was threatened by aortic disease, with frequent angina. He was taking a brief holiday in Paris, and preparing for the presidency of the Dermatological subsection of the British Medical Association at Cork, when an attack of angina carried him off on 7 June 1879. He was buried at Willesden cemetery, 14 June 1879.

For many years and up to the time of his death Fox was a prominent member of the editorial staff of the ‘Lancet.’ His intense energy was always at work promoting the interests of dermatology as a branch of medical practice. His genial manners and conscientiousness made him very popular with patients. Fox's principal writings are the following: 1. ‘Skin Diseases of Parasitic Origin,’ 1863. 2. ‘Skin Diseases, their Description, Pathology, Diagnosis, and Treatment,’ 1864; 3rd edit., rewritten and enlarged, 1873. 3. ‘The Classification of Skin Diseases,’ 1864. 4. ‘Cholera Prospects,’ 1865. 5. ‘The Action of Fungi in the Production of Disease,’ 1866. 6. ‘Leprosy, Ancient and Modern; with notes taken during recent travel in the East,’ 1866. 7. ‘Eczema, its Nature and Treatment,’ ‘Lettsomian Lectures,’ 1870. 8. ‘Prurigo and Pediculosis,’ 1870. 9. ‘Scheme for obtaining a better knowledge of Endemic Skin Diseases of India’ (with Dr. T. Farquhar); prepared for the India Office, 1872. 10. ‘Key to Skin Diseases,’ 1875. 11. ‘Atlas of Skin Diseases’ (based on Willan's); 4to, with plates, 1875–7. 12. ‘On certain Endemic Skin and other Diseases of India and Hot Climates generally’ (with Dr. T. Farquhar), 1876. 13. ‘Epitome of Skin Diseases’ (with T. Colcott Fox), 1877, 2nd edit. 14. ‘On Ringworm and its Management,’ 1878. Fox edited and revised editions of Tanner's ‘Manual of Clinical Medicine,’ published in 1869 and 1876. He also contributed numerous papers on skin diseases to the medical societies and journals.

[Lancet, Medical Times, and British Medical Journal, 14 June 1879.]

G. T. B.