Letter referring to a surgical operation

Scope and Content

Letter from Joseph Lister to Dr William MacEwen referring to a surgical operation, 1891.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir William Macewen was born at Rothesay on 22 June 1848. He graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1869 and gained the degree of M.D. in 1872. In 1875 he was appointed assistant surgeon to the Royal Infirmary at Glasgow, becoming a full Surgeon in 1877. On his appointment to the Infirmary he devoted himself to surgery and it was during this time that he made important advances in both brain and bone surgery. In 1881 he was appointed lecturer on Systematic Surgery at the Royal Infirmary School of Medicine where he stayed for eight years, and at the amalgamation of this school with St Mungo's College he was appointed Professor of Clinical Surgery. In 1883 he was appointed as Surgeon to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. In 1892 he became Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow, transferring his surgical activities from the Royal to the Western Infirmary. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1874 and an Honorary Fellow in 1913. He was elected President of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow in 1889 and in 1890 he was awarded the Honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LL D) by Glasgow University. He was knighted in 1902. He died in Glasgow on 22 March 1924.

His surgical work was pioneering; he performed the first excision of a lung; and undertook pioneer explorations of the brain for abscesses and tumours. He performed the first surgery to relieve brain disorder and in 1878 removed a brain tumour. He made advances in bone surgery and in 1880 successfully grafted bone to enable a boy to regain the use of his arm. In 1877 he introduced an operation to correct knock-knee which was subsequently copied throughout the world. He studied bone growth and transplantation, and published The Growth of Bone (1912) and The Growth and Shedding of the Antler of the Deer' (1921).

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Acquisition Information

This record was transferred from Dundee University Library in 1976.


Compiled by Caroline Brown, University of Dundee, and Jenny Cutts, Scottish Archive Network Project.

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