Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, largely relating to the books of Sir James Purves-Stewart (1869-1949) and his views on Euthanasia

Scope and Content

The volume - a scrapbook - contains newspaper cuttings in small part consisting of reviews of Purves-Stewart's notable published work Diagnosis of nervous diseases (1906). There are reviews from the BMJ, the Athenaeum (8 Dec. 1906); The Lancet (8 May 1909), La Clinique (12 Aout 1910), and the Bulletin Medical de l'Algerie (Alger, 25 Aout 1910), but in large part consisting of controversial articles in the 1930s about Purves-Stewart's views on voluntary euthanasia and about the administration of euthanasia, on occasions, by physicians. There are a number of articles from the Western Mail, from the Catholic Herald, from the Daily Sketch, and from other British newspapers.

The scrapbook contains other cuttings mentioning Purves-Stewart in relation to Canadian hospitals in France, and his views on the Empire. There are a few cuttings relating to an international congress on hydrology in North Africa in 1909 at which he appears to have given a paper. There are also cuttings of jokes and verses.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Purves-Stewart was born on 20 November 1869, the son of a master tailor in Edinburgh. He was educated at the city's Royal High School and he studied at the universities of Edinburgh and Jena, graduating from Edinburgh with the degrees of M.A., and M.D. in 1894. He was an Assistant to the Professor of Physiology and Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh University, and between 1900 and 1901 he was Physician to the Imperial Yeomanry Field Hospital during the South African campaign (Boer War). During the First World War he served in the Mediterranean on Malta, at Gallipoli, Salonika, and in Egypt.

Purves-Stewart received the C.B. in 1916, and he was knighted (KCMG) in 1918.

His publications include Diagnosis of nervous diseases (1906) which went to a 10th edition in 1948, Intracranial tumours (1927), A physician's tour in Soviet Russia (1932), Robert Burns, a medical aspect (1935), his autobiography Sands of time (1939), and Over military age (1942).

Latterly Purves-Stewart had been consulting physician at Westminster Hospital and to West End Hospital for nervous Diseases, physician to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, consulting physician to King Edward VII Hospital for Officers at Osborne, and consulting physician to H. M. Forces in the Mediterranean.

Sir James Purves-Stewart died on 14 June 1949.

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Acquisition Information

Item accessioned to collections in May 2007, and given Accession no: E2007.21.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Who was who 1941-1950. (Reprinted). p.1106. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1985.

Other Finding Aids

None prepared for this collection.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.