Papers of Peter Alexander George Monro, alias Xander

Scope and Content

Monro's papers comprise correspondence, working papers, offprints, cassette recordings, photographs, and projector transparencies.

Administrative / Biographical History

Anatomist, lecturer, and Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. The son of an Instructor Captain in the Royal Navy, Monro was a descendent of Alexander Monro Primus, an important figure in the rise of the Edinburgh Medical School. Monro studied at Kelly College, Tavistock and then at University College Exeter, showing an early interest in chemistry as well as photography and shooting. He entered St John's in 1937 and elected to take the three-year course to Part I of the Natural Sciences Tripos. During the war he continued to study at Cambridge and then at the London Hospital Medical College, where he had the responsibilities of a House Officer. He qualified MB, BChir, LRCP, MRCS in 1943, after which he worked for a time as House Officer at Hertford County Hospital. As a registered conscientious objector, Monro became a ship's doctor in the Merchant Navy in 1943, and later wrote about his experiences in his book "Reminiscences of a Ship's Surgeon".

After the war, Monro worked at the EMS hospital at Harold Wood, Essex, before returning to the London Hospital Medical College in 1948 as Demonstrator in Anatomy under J.D. Boyd. His research at this time covered laboratory work and clinical observations on aspects of the sympathetic nervous system. He published his findings in his 1959 book "Sympathectomy: an anatomical and physiological study with clinical applications".

In 1951, Monro followed Boyd to Cambridge, becoming a Demonstrator and then, in 1955, a Lecturer in anatomy. He spent the year 1954-55 in the USA, on an Eli Lilly Travelling Fellowship at NIH and at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1952 he married Helen Booth, with whom he had a son and a daughter. Apart from his year in the USA, Monro spent the rest of his career, until his retirement in 1982, in Cambridge, where as a Fellow of St John's College he supervised in anatomy. He was convinced that most students learn best when actually engaged in their subject, and was responsible for the College's purchase of a number of human skeletons to be loaned to medical students for the private study of anatomy. As a lecturer he pioneered the use of video technology in the teaching of dissection and gross morphology. He was also heavily involved in the teaching of radiology and neuroanatomy.

Monro's later research concerned the flow of blood in small vessels. He invented and made apparatus for the purpose, and devised innovative methods of visualising blood flow in vivo in animal model systems. He was also active in the affairs of both the British Microcirculation Society and the European Society for Microcirculation.

When he retired, Monro moved to Essex and then Cornwall, devoting his energies to writing. His first book of this period was "The Early History of the British Microcirculation Society, 1963-1984". His interest in the papers of Alexander Monro Primus culminated in his 1995 book, "The Professor's Daughter: an Essay on Female Conduct". Monro died on 9 March 2005 aged 86. (Source: "The Eagle" (2005), 105-109).

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Note

Anatomist, lecturer, and Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. The son of an Instructor Captain in the Royal Navy, Monro was a descendent of Alexander Monro Primus, an important figure in the rise of the Edinburgh Medical School. Monro studied at Kelly College, Tavistock and then at University College Exeter, showing an early interest in chemistry as well as photography and shooting. He entered St John's in 1937 and elected to take the three-year course to Part I of the Natural Sciences Tripos. During the war he continued to study at Cambridge and then at the London Hospital Medical College, where he had the responsibilities of a House Officer. He qualified MB, BChir, LRCP, MRCS in 1943, after which he worked for a time as House Officer at Hertford County Hospital. As a registered conscientious objector, Monro became a ship's doctor in the Merchant Navy in 1943, and later wrote about his experiences in his book "Reminiscences of a Ship's Surgeon".

After the war, Monro worked at the EMS hospital at Harold Wood, Essex, before returning to the London Hospital Medical College in 1948 as Demonstrator in Anatomy under J.D. Boyd. His research at this time covered laboratory work and clinical observations on aspects of the sympathetic nervous system. He published his findings in his 1959 book "Sympathectomy: an anatomical and physiological study with clinical applications".

In 1951, Monro followed Boyd to Cambridge, becoming a Demonstrator and then, in 1955, a Lecturer in anatomy. He spent the year 1954-55 in the USA, on an Eli Lilly Travelling Fellowship at NIH and at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1952 he married Helen Booth, with whom he had a son and a daughter. Apart from his year in the USA, Monro spent the rest of his career, until his retirement in 1982, in Cambridge, where as a Fellow of St John's College he supervised in anatomy. He was convinced that most students learn best when actually engaged in their subject, and was responsible for the College's purchase of a number of human skeletons to be loaned to medical students for the private study of anatomy. As a lecturer he pioneered the use of video technology in the teaching of dissection and gross morphology. He was also heavily involved in the teaching of radiology and neuroanatomy.

Monro's later research concerned the flow of blood in small vessels. He invented and made apparatus for the purpose, and devised innovative methods of visualising blood flow in vivo in animal model systems. He was also active in the affairs of both the British Microcirculation Society and the European Society for Microcirculation.

When he retired, Monro moved to Essex and then Cornwall, devoting his energies to writing. His first book of this period was "The Early History of the British Microcirculation Society, 1963-1984". His interest in the papers of Alexander Monro Primus culminated in his 1995 book, "The Professor's Daughter: an Essay on Female Conduct". Monro died on 9 March 2005 aged 86. (Source: "The Eagle" (2005), 105-109).

Preferred citation: St John's College Library, Papers of Peter Alexander George Monro, alias Xander

Archivist's Note

29 Feb 2016

Additional Information

Published