Papers of George Goring Campion

Scope and Content

A small collection of correspondence between George Campion and Grafton Elliot Smith concerning their views on brain structure and function, particularly relating to the neurological bases of perception and consciousness.

The papers include correspondence dating 1921-1923 concerning the differing views of Campion and Smith on "instinct" (GGC/1), and correspondence from the 1930s on their discussions on anatomical and physiological aspects of neural pathways, and their role in "affective" and "cognitive" thought, which were set out in Smith's lecture "Evolution of the mind" (1934) and their jointly-authored The neural basis of thought (GGC/2-3).

There are also copies of Smith's "Evolution of the Mind" lecture, 1934, (GGC/4) and Campion's pamphlet Mental connectedness and neurology (privately printed, 1944), (GGC/5) which concerns his debates with Smith.

The collection will be of interest to those interested in Elliot Smith's thought, and in debates on neurology, neuroanatomy and neuropsychology in the inter-war period.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Goring Campion was born in 1862, the son of a leading dentist, Henry Campion. He was educated at Birkenhead School before proceeding to St Bartholomew's Hospital, London to study medicine. Campion completed his studies at the Royal Dental Hospital, London. Thereafter Campion established a successful dental practice in Manchester, and was a honorary dental surgeon at the Manchester Dental Hospital. He was Dean of the Dental Hospital from 1892-1899, and Treasurer between 1924-1927. Campion also taught dentistry at the Owens College/University of Manchester Dental School for many years, and this work was recognized by the award of a honorary M.Sc. by the University in 1936. Campion held high office in his profession, being president of the Odontological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1918, president of the British Society for Study of Odontology in 1920, and president of the British Dental Association in 1923. He also contributed to professional dental literature, and was a recognized expert in the field of orthodontics.

Outside of his work, Campion had a longstanding interest in neurology, especially its connections to psychology and mental philosophy. During the latter part of his life, he devoted much time to researching these topics, and in doing so, sought the views and opinions of the University of Manchester academics, John Stopford (1888-1961), professor of anatomy from 1919-1937, and Stopford's predecessor in this chair, Grafton Elliot Smith (1871-1937). Smith was, during the period when Campion corresponded with him, at the height of his intellectual eminence, and was working on an ambitious research programme to synthesise anatomy, embryology, neurology, anthropology, psychology and other subjects into a broader understanding of human development. Campion therefore was discussing his views with one of the leading figures in the field.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Campion wrote several papers outlining his views on what he termed the "psycho-neural problem". He developed what he considered to be an original theory of the growth of neural pathways through sense perception, and how this related to perception and cognition. These ideas were set out in Elements in thought and emotion: an essay on education, epistemology, and the psychoneural problem (1923), and The neural basis of thought (London 1934) , co-authored with Elliot Smith. Campion engaged in a vigorous debate with Smith over his theories on the relationships between brain structure and function (Smith had by this period become professor of anatomy at University College London). Campion disagreed with the physiological explanations of mental "instinct" propounded by Smith, and his fellow anatomists, Henry Head and W.H.R Rivers. They renewed their correspondence in the early 1930s, and collaborated on The neural basis of thought ; by this time, Smith accepted many of Campion's ideas on the function of neural pathways in the cortex, thalamus and hypothalamus, and their relationship to perception and cognition.

Campion lived in Bramhall, Cheshire, where he died in 1946.


Primarily arranged in chronological order.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Archivist's Note

Original file covers, annotated by Campion, have been retained.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The papers were deposited at the University of Manchester Library (now JRUL) by Campion in February 1945 (letter from Campion to Moses Tyson, 14 February 1945, Library archive).


No accruals expected.

Related Material

Campion is represented in JRUL's Manchester Medical Collection: a publications files MMC/1/Campion, and a biographical file, MMC/2/Campion, which includes an obituary.

JRUL has a small collection of papers of Grafton Elliot Smith, GES; these do not contain anything on his relations with Campion. Smith's own papers have been dispersed. The British Library, Manuscript Collections have a collection of his papers [ref: Add MSS 56303-04] and University College London (UCL) Manuscripts Room have papers relating to his later career [ref: NRA 24781 University College].