Sarat Kumar Mullick (?-1924)

Sarat K. Mullick was a medical man who practised in England and India, and who passionately campaigned for medical reforms in India and for rights and respect to be given to Indian practitioners and the public.


Mullick’s obituary in the BMJ (1925).

Little is written about Mullick’s early life, though comments in the medical press suggest that he came from Bengal. He was educated at Calcutta University and at some point moved to Britain, where he was trained at St Mary’s Hospital and qualified through the University of Edinburgh. By the 1890s Mullick was working as Assistant Physician to the National Hospital for Heart and Paralysis in Soho-square, and by 1900, he was Assistant Physician to the Hospital of St Francis in London.

Medical reform appears to have been his principal concern, but he was also interested in clinical matters. He was active in the British Medical Association’s (BMA) sections of Tropical Diseases; Pharmacology and Therapeutics; and Medicine. BMA proceedings show him commenting on matters ranging from influenza and the nervous system,[1] to sprue (a malabsorption disease of the gastrointestinal tract).[2] He seems to have been particularly invested in dietetics. In 1900 he took part in discussions on ‘Diet in the Treatment of Disease’. He advocated a ‘dietetic ladder’ by which gastric invalids could be ‘raised by degrees to full diet, without undue strain on digestion’.[3] He also agreed with some of his colleagues that the ‘greatest of modern ills was excessive drinking and eating’.[4]

Mullick published some of his clinical observations. In 1899, the BMJ featured his article on tropical diseases which might be encountered in general practice in England, including malaria, dysentery and hepatitis.[5]

In the medical press and the BMA, Mullick was an outspoken campaigner. In 1898 he wrote to the Lancet to challenge its coverage of plague measures in India. Significantly, he accused the journal of misrepresenting Indian people. He insisted that they did not resist legitimate measures and pointed to their own practices of disinfection, isolation and inoculation. He countered,

What [the Indian people] really object to (and what self-respecting nation would not?) is the arbitrary and high-handed manner in which the orders of the Government are executed […] it is a notorious fact that the feelings of the people were grievously trampled upon.[6]

His letter further emphasised that the English public had resisted public health measures such as vaccination for smallpox.

Mullick also campaigned for a system of medical registration to be introduced to India, in the interests of patients and practitioners. At the 1899 BMA meeting, he said registration was needed to ‘protect the public from the mischievous machinations of charlatans’ and he called upon the Association to do ‘all in its power’ to bring about change. The motion was ‘carried unanimously’.[7] However, he felt the need to put forward a similar motion at the 1901 meeting; this time it was withdrawn due to opposition which emphasised the supposed obstacles to registration being successfully introduced.[8]

During this time, Mullick also called for greater opportunities for medical men of Indian descent. At the BMA’s 1899 meeting, he put forward a resolution on behalf of a colleague (Dr T.M. Nair) who was unable to leave India. The resolution complained that civil appointments in India were monopolised by the Indian Medical Service (IMS), and called for them to be thrown open to competition.[9] A year later, Mullick put forward his own motion, which protested against the system by which IMS officials were appointed as professorial chairs in India’s medical colleges based on rank. He said this nepotism was ‘prejudicial to the interest of medical education and sanitation’ and was ‘a sinister bar to the advancement of original research in India’. He called for an inquiry to investigate.[10]

The matter was referred to the BMA’s Indian Military Medical Services Committee, which pushed Mullick to produce evidence to substantiate his controversial claims. The Committee endorsed the position of Surgeon-General Harvey (Director-General of the IMS), who contested Mullick’s remarks. Drawing on common imperialist rhetoric, Harvey maintained that the IMS was ‘open to all natives who choose to compete’ (by taking the London-based examinations) but that it ‘would be most undesirable to open it to men who have never left India, and are ignorant of Western manners and modes of thought’.[11]

In 1901, Mullick wrote to the BMJ attacking the Committee – led by James Barr (later President of the BMA) – for its failure to engage with his evidence. He suggested that the Committee was ‘utterly unfit to deal with such an important question’.[12] When the Committee sought to discredit his claims, Mullick lambasted Barr for sharing his evidence publicly rather than treating it confidentially. Mullick insisted he did ‘not care a jot or tittle for the personal attacks which ha[d] been made’ on him, but emphasised the importance of protecting whistleblowers and called for a system of ‘fair play’ for the men of India. Mullick disputed Harvey’s claims that the IMS was fairly open to Indian-born men. Slamming this ‘old fallacy’, he pointed out that Harvey

wisely omits the facts that the Indians have to leave their homes, have to risk the dangers and expense of a long and perilous sea voyage to England, and have to compete in a foreign language with men who are in their own homes, who have received the same training as their examiners, and whose mother tongue is the vehicle of examination. How would the Englishman feel if, in order to serve in England he had to find the money to go to India, to separate himself from all that is near and dear to him, to live in exile in an inhospitable climate amongst a strange people differing from him as the poles asunder, and then compete in an Indian language on the off-chance of being successful.[13]

Mullick also wrote to the Lancet and Indian Medical Record with these claims. In similar language, he described how Indians who travelled to the metropole would ‘risk the perils of the deep, leave their hearth and home, and everything that is near and dear to them, to spend a number of years in an inhospitable climate’.[14] In these letters, Mullick shrewdly reversed the trope of British men leaving their domestic comforts to work in a hostile tropical climate.

In response to this criticism, Barr derided Mullick’s evidence as insubstantial and baseless: ‘I should now like to know what “code of honour,” if any, written or unwritten, regulates Dr. Mullick’s conduct’, he wrote in the BMJ. Barr’s rejoinder was underpinned by racist attitudes, as he accused Mullick’s proposals of benefiting none but ‘a few imperfectly-educated Indian medical men who had never left their native country’.[15]

Despite facing such condescension, Mullick continued to agitate for the rights of his Indian colleagues. In 1901, he moved that graduates and licentiates of Indian universities should be eligible for regular membership of the BMA. He bemoaned the fact that the Indian Branches were dominated by a handful of army doctors who were not representative of Indian medical communities. Since the Metropolitan Branch had rejected his motion, he wrote to the BMJ to appeal to a wider body of BMA members. He argued that the inclusion of Indian qualified practitioners ‘would increase the prestige and purpose of the Association by spreading that esprit de corps which is such a potent factor in keeping our profession pure’.[16]

By 1902, the Lancet reported that Mullick had returned to India, where he had been lecturing in Mysore among other places. The column commended him for giving ‘good advice’ to young Indians, urging them to travel and see England. He also counselled them that it was possible to ‘live as vegetarians and total abstainers’, indicating his continued interest in dietetics. The column referred to Mullick’s campaigning activities, noting that – during the past summer – he had ‘strongly advocated the claims of native medical men’ to certain posts in India.[17]

Hereafter, Mullick lived and worked in India, where he became Secretary of the Bengali Regiment Committee. His BMJ obituary would later brand him an ‘ardent advocate of military service’ in Bengal.[18] During the First World War, he raised the Bengali Ambulance Corps, which served in Mesopotamia. He also helped induce the Government to enrol a Bengali battalion for combatant service. Mullick became President of the Indian Territorial Force Committee.

During the course of his rich and varied career, Mullick gradually won recognition. In 1914 he was appointed to the Bengal Council of Medical Registration.[19] (Medical registration was introduced to Bengal in 1912 and extended to other Presidencies in 1914.) In 1918, Mullick was also awarded a CBE for his wartime work.[20] In his final decades he was professor of medicine and clinical medicine at the National Medical College of India, and physician to the King’s Hospital in Calcutta. He also edited the Medical and Surgical Journal of the Tropics. When he died from pneumonia in 1924, the BMJ proclaimed him ‘one of the leading medical men in Calcutta’ and described how he had taken ‘a leading part in medical politics in India’.[21] Despite earlier attempts to discredit and undermine him, this passionate advocate had at last secured his standing among the British and Indian medical communities.

[1] ‘Sixty-Eighth Annual Meeting of the BMA: Proceedings of Section: Section of Medicine: A Discussion on Influenza as it Affects the Nervous System’, BMJ, 29 September 1900, pp. 877-85 (p. 882).

[2] ‘Sixty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the BMA: Proceedings of Sections: Section of Tropical Disease: A Discussion on Psilosis or Sprue’, BMJ, 9 September 1899, pp. 637-42 (p. 641).

[3] ‘The British Medical Association: The Sections: Pharmacology and Therapeutics’, Lancet, 18 August 1900, pp. 514-5 (p. 514).

[4] ‘Section of Pharmacology and Therapeutics: A Discussion on Diet in the Treatment of Disease’, BMJ, 13 October 1900, pp. 1081-2 (p. 1081).

[5] Sarat K. Mullick, ‘Some of the More Common Forms of Tropical Diseases Met with in General Practice in England’, BMJ, 9 September 1899, pp. 659-60.

[6] Mullick, ‘Correspondence: The Plague in India’, Lancet, 5 November 1898, pp. 1227-8.

[7] ‘The British Medical Association: The General Meetings: The First General Meeting’, Lancet, 5 August 1899, pp. 372-3 (p. 373).

[8] ‘The British Medical Association: The General Meetings: The Third General Meeting’, Lancet, 17 August 1901, pp. 465-6 (p. 466).

[9] ‘Sixty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the BMA’, BMJ, 5 August 1899, pp. 365-71 (p. 368). For more on the history of the IMS, see Mark Harrison, Public Health in British India: Anglo-Indian Preventive Medicine, 1859-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 6-35.

[10] ‘British Medical Association: Notices of Motion’, BMJ, 21 July 1900, pp. 196-7 (p. 196).

[11] Robert Harvey, ‘The Indian Medical Service’, BMJ, 14 September 1901, pp. 720-22 (p. 721).

[12] Mullick, ‘Correspondence: Indian Medical Reform and the British Medical Association’, BMJ, 20 July 1901, p. 182.

[13] Mullick, ‘Correspondence: Indian Medical Reform and the British Medical Association’, BMJ, 14 September 1901, pp. 745-6 (p. 746).

[14] Mullick, ‘Correspondence: The Indian Medical Profession’, Lancet, 13 April 1901, pp. 1105-6 (p. 1106).

[15] James Barr, ‘Correspondence: Dr. Sarat K. Mullick and Indian Medical Reform’, BMJ, 5 October 1901, pp. 1013-14.

[16] Mullick, ‘Correspondence: The Report of the Constitution Committee: Indian Practitioners and Membership of the Association’, BMJ, 27 April 1901, p. 1052.

[17] ‘Notes from India’, Lancet, 11 January 1902, pp. 122-3.

[18] ‘Dr. Sarat Kumar Mullick’, BMJ, 3 January 1925, p. 53.

[19] ‘The Bengal Medical Council’, Lancet, 21 November 1914, p. 1216.

[20] ‘New Year Honours’, BMJ, 12 January 1918, p. 67.

[21] ‘Dr. Sarat Kumar Mullick’, p. 53.


Self-Fashioning Scientific Identities: A Conference Report and Outlook

The following post was kindly written by Lea Beiermann, a PhD student researching nineteenth-century microscopy at the University of Cologne. You can find her on Twitter here.

du bois-reymond

Antiqued portrait of Paul du Bois-Reymond in Emil du Bois-Reymond‘s Untersuchungen über thierische Elektricität, vol. II (Berlin: Reimer, 1884)

What did a nineteenth-century janitor have to do to become an acknowledged member of the scientific community? Could sailors publish their notes taken on maritime expeditions, and did that make them ethnologists? And how did women navigate a sea of male scientific identities? These are some of the questions that were discussed during the workshop “Self-Fashioning Scientific Identities in the Long Nineteenth Century” hosted at the University of Leicester on June 15th.

Research into scientific self-fashioning has long proven to be a useful tool for analysing both changes and continuities in scientific culture. Crafting a trustworthy persona for oneself is crucial when attempting to claim an authoritative position in scientific circles and beyond. Nineteenth-century self-fashioning in the sciences would often build on established personae – like the solitary genius – while reinterpreting them at the same time. As Steven Shapin (2012) has observed, “the late modern expert still retains some characteristics of the early modern virtuoso.”[1]


Photographic portrait of Constance Naden c.1886. Further Reliques of Constance Naden (London: Bickers and Song, 1891), frontis.

The “SciSelf” workshop, which was accompanied by lively #sciself2018 Tweets, facilitated exchanges among researchers looking into the intricate relations between scientific, gender and class identities in the long nineteenth century. Papers presented at the workshop, which was funded by the Constructing Scientific Communities project, provided rich perspectives on the formation of scientific identities, questions of scientific authority, autobiographical writing and science popularisation.

The first panel, focusing on disciplinary identities, exposed nineteenth-century strategies of being recognised as an ethnologist, a physiologist, or forging a decidedly interdisciplinary identity. The second panel laid bare the difficulties experienced by scientists managing multiple scientific personae, while papers on the third panel presented both authorial and photographic ways of “writing” scientific identities. Strategies of popularising science were analysed in the final panel on science in public, followed by a keynote by Dr Patricia Fara (University of Cambridge) on female identities in early twentieth-century science.

The papers presented at the “SciSelf” workshop analysed nineteenth- and early twentieth-century science in Britain, America, the Netherlands, Romania and Germany, inviting us to look at national differences and parallels. The international scope of these papers both testified to the spread of the notion of self-fashioning as an analytical lens and suggested that it may be worthwhile to engage in further comparative or transnational studies of scientific identities. Likewise, it seemed that comparing the various personae underlying nineteenth-century self-fashioning may allow to better understand the development of amateur and professional scientific alliances, within and across disciplines.


Portrait of Sir Ronald Ross, May 1898. Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images.

Finally, the “SciSelf” workshop also reminded us to reflect on our own self-fashioning as historians of science. Judging by the #sciself2018 Tweets, presenters were forced to leave their research “dungeons” to attend the conference or combine breakfast with preparatory paper reading. Although these Tweets painted endearing pictures of researchers absorbed in their work, they made me aware that our increasing self-presentation on digital (and non-digital) platforms comes with the obligation of considering the implications of our own self-fashioning – which identities are we crafting and who are we including in or excluding from our scientific communities?

[1] Shapin, S. (2008). The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Florence Dissent (1869-?)

When I talk about my research on Victorian medical women, I find that people are sometimes familiar with the names of the earliest pioneers, such as Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and Sophia Jex-Blake. Yet many of their contemporaries, and female practitioners that followed closely in their stead, remain unknown. I’m interested in which historical figures are in the public consciousness or domain.

One medical woman who I unearthed during my research proved to be relatively invisible in scholarship and to have little digital presence. This was Florence Dissent (later Dissent-Barnes), an Anglo-Indian practitioner in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I first encountered Dissent in the pages of the Indian Medical Record, which devoted a full-page illustrated biography to her when she was just 26 years old. I was disappointed that Dissent has since faded into obscurity, so I featured her in my thesis, created a Wikipedia page for her, and wanted to share her story via this blog.

Florence Dissent

This image of Dissent appeared in the Indian Medical Record (1895).

Dissent was born on 9 July 1869 in Calcutta, the then-capital of British India. She was initially educated at home and between the ages of 8 and 14 was a pupil at Loreto Convent, an all-girls Roman Catholic school. Dissent qualified in medicine in Europe. She received her MD from Brussels and was licensed through the Scottish Triple Qualification from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Back in India, she was attached to the National Association for Supplying Medical Aid to the Women of India (commonly known as the Dufferin Fund, after the Viceroy’s wife), and later the state-funded Women’s Medical Service for India (established in 1913). At the outset of her career, Dissent worked at the Dufferin Hospital for women in Allahbad. In 1891, the Indian Medical Gazette featured her clinical observations from practice there, printing ‘Two Cases of Large Uterine Polypus’ in its ‘A Mirror of Hospital Practice’ column.[1] She published under the name ‘Miss’, indicating that she practised as a surgeon.

As mentioned, Dissent was the subject of a full-page biographical sketch in the Indian Medical Record (IMR) in 1895. The article charted her personal and professional achievements and also framed her as source of inspiration for the Anglo-Indian community and for aspiring medical women. It suggested she was a ‘striking illustration’ of ‘what can be accomplished by patient self-denial on the part of Anglo-Indian parents with only limited means at their command’.[2] The term Anglo-Indian typically referred to those of British descent who were born, raised or long-domiciled in India, or sometimes to those of mixed racial heritage. The Anglo-Indian community faced prejudice and struggled to secure appointments in the medical or civil services unless they could afford to travel to London to take the entrance exams.

Reflecting on the medical-woman movement, the article argued, ‘[m]any avenues of work are open for our girls, but none offers so splendid an opportunity for usefulness to women in any other part of the world, as medical practice by women among women of India’. Medical women were typically valued for their ability to attend female patients who observed purdah or zenana, practices of veiling and segregation. The article continued: ‘The zenanas will remain closed to men physicians for another century, and all this while women physicians have to themselves an unexplored field of service that is unsurpassed in its possibilities for doing good’.[3] Some commentators contested the idea that Indian women were reluctant or unwilling to be attended by medical men, but the idea of an appetite or need for female practitioners was successfully mobilised by the medical-woman movement and its supporters. The IMR article is especially enthusiastic in its advocacy here.

When I added my entry on Dissent to Wikipedia, I was surprised and overjoyed to find that another editor quickly waded in with more information on her. This unknown contributor pointed out that in 1912, social reformers Sidney and Beatrice Webb visited Dissent’s hospital for women and children in Bhopal. They noted that Dissent was involved in training dais (native midwives), at the orders of the Begum. While the Webbs were highly pejorative towards the dais, characterising them as ‘ignorant and superstitious’, they do not provide an insight into Dissent’s attitudes.[4]  I found it remarkable that someone in the Wiki-editing community knew about Dissent when she was generally so forgotten.

Resurrecting Dissent’s career trajectory relies on patchy information, but I also found that in 1922 she was attached to the Government of Bombay to inquire into the maternity conditions of industrial women workers.[5] A year later, her report on this subject was published in the Bombay Labour Gazette.[6]

At some point she seems to have married, for she published first under the name ‘Miss Dissent’ and later under ‘Mrs Dissent Barnes’. When so many historical (and modern-day) women are represented as adjuncts to better-known husbands, it is refreshing to find that the record of her medical work outstrips anything about her romantic life. I was pleased to be able to reflect this in her Wikipedia profile.

Inspired by my research on Dissent and my first foray into Wikipedia editing, I recently organised a Wikithon on Women in Medicine with the Wellcome Collection, under the auspices of the Constructing Scientific Communities project. Working with Alice White (the Wellcome’s former Wikimedian-in-Residence and current Web Editor), the event sought to improve the representation of women on Wikipedia and inspire more female editors. Hopefully events like this will ensure that women such as Dissent become better known, not only among scholarly communities but also among the wider public interested in women’s history and medical history.

[1] Florence Dissent, ‘Mirror of Medicine: Two Cases of Large Uterine Polypus’, Indian Medical Gazette, December 1891, p. 334.

[2] ‘Our Picture Gallery: Miss Florence Dissent’, Indian Medical Record, 1 May 1895, p. 334.

[3] ‘Our Picture Gallery’, p. 334.

[4] Sidney Webb, The Webbs in Asia: The 1911-12 Travel Diary (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1992), p. 249.

[5] ‘Maternity Conditions in India’, Lancet, 4 February 1922, p. 216.

[6] Margaret Ida Balfour and Ruth Young, The Work of Medical Women in India (London: Oxford University Press, 1929), p. 176.

Henry Martineau Greenhow (1829–1912)

During my thesis, one of my major research interests was medical men and women who produced literature. While some of these authors (such as Arthur Conan Doyle and W. Somerset Maugham) remain well-known today, others have faded into obscurity. I came across Henry Martineau Greenhow while researching fiction about medicine in India. He was a surgeon in the Indian Medical Service who later drew on his experiences to pen fiction about Anglo-Indian life.

Greenhow was born in 1829 to a prominent family. His father, Thomas Michael Greenhow, was an illustrious medical man, who co-founded Newcastle’s Eye Infirmary and the Newcastle University Medical School. Thomas worked at the Newcastle Infirmary (later the Royal Victoria Infirmary), and was crucial during its expansion. Thomas was married to Elizabeth Martineau, sister of the political and social theorist Harriet. Thomas and Elizabeth also had a daughter, Frances, Henry’s older sister. Frances would become known for her efforts to open up educational opportunities for women.

Newcastle Infirmary.jpg

Newcastle Royal Infirmary. Etching by J. Fittler (1758-1835) after himself. (Wellcome Collection.)

The young Greenhow became a student at the Newcastle School of Medicine in 1848 and at University College London in 1849. Four years later he became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. In January 1854, he entered the Indian Medical Service (IMS) on the Bengal side as an Assistant Surgeon. Three years later he served during the Indian Rebellion. He was part of the original garrison at the Siege of Lucknow, where he aided several wounded soldiers from the relieving force, for which he was promoted and awarded the Mutiny Medal with two Clasps and furlough for eighteen months counting as service. During furlough, he became a Fellow of the surgical Royal Colleges of England and Edinburgh. Greenhow was also promoted to the Brevet rank of surgeons, in recognition of his services at Lucknow. He became a Surgeon Major in 1873, before he retired three years later.

During his retirement, ‘he tried his hand at literature’, as his obituary in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) attests.[1] He published several novels of Anglo-Indian life, including The Bow of Fate (1893) and Brenda’s Experiment (1896), which was designed to tap into contemporary tastes. In an article for Blackwood’s, journalist Hilda Gregg described how there was a ‘flood of Mutiny literature’ in the 1890s. She wrote, ‘[o]f all the great events of this century, as they are reflected in fiction, the Indian Mutiny has taken the firmest hold on the popular imagination’.[2]

Brenda’s Experiment follows a young British woman, Brenda Mogadore, who marries a Muslim man, Ameer Ali. The novel’s title reflects how interracial marriage is framed as an ‘experiment’ trialled by Brenda and her bohemian parents. It proves to be an ill-fated match. While Ali initially presents himself as a liberal-minded convert to Christianity, this turns out to be a ruse. After settling his new wife in Rownpore, he reveals his true nature, introducing a second wife to the home and promising Brenda as a gift to his high-status cousin, the Nawab (the figurehead of the ‘Mutiny’). Reviewing the novel, Hearth and Home noted that, while the narrative was ‘readable and entertaining’, Greenhow had made ‘the Oriental’ (Ali) ‘such a brute that no woman could have been happy with him, whatever his race, rank, or religion’.[3] Similarly, the Speaker deemed the book ‘readable and interesting’, but complained that ‘we should like […] to meet in fiction with a Mahomedan who was not a villain’.[4] The novel’s treatment of race is crude and unpalatable, and I was intrigued to find that nineteenth-century reviewers were similarly frustrated by its Islamophobia.

Greenhow repeatedly deploys common Orientalist tropes, particularly in his representation of Muslim men as cruel and untrustworthy. Many of the Sepoys in the Rownpore Rangers – save for the loyal and courageous Sikhs – prove treacherous, and the ringleaders murder their British officers in gruesome and unprovoked attacks. Dillawur Khan attacks an unarmed Captain Wright, slitting his throat and then carrying his head on a stick as a ‘hideous trophy’.[5]

The novel’s title page identified the author as ‘Surgeon-Major Greenhow’, thus establishing it as the work of a medical man. While medical practice does not feature heavily in the narrative, Greenhow depicts two colonial medical men: the retired Dr Barton, a family friend of the Mogadores who returns to London after a lengthy career in India, and Assistant Surgeon Bolton, who helps the British military in its defence of the Residency. Barton warns Brenda’s parents not to trust Ali, and rigidly believes in ‘racial distinctions’. While Mogadore hopes that his daughter’s marriage will show that ‘the narrow limits of race are falsely drawn by the narrow prejudices of mankind’ (41), Barton remains convinced that the ‘mixture of certain races should be avoided’ (30). His advice stems from his position as doctor and family friend. Similarly, Bolton plays a minor but crucial role. He confronts and arrests the Nawab, restoring order to the colonial outpost. Greenhow positions a character of his own former rank as a military hero.

During his retirement, Greenhow lived at Esher in Surrey, where he died at the age of 83 on 26 November 1912. He was the last survivor of the medical officers who took part in the defence of the Residency. The Lancet printed a small obituary which recorded his service during the Rebellion,[6] while a longer obituary in the BMJ recalled both his military service and his literary activities.[7]

HMG Obituary

Greenhow’s obituary in the BMJ (1912)

It is unsurprising that Greenhow’s rather crude and distasteful narratives have not secured him longer-lasting literary recognition. Yet his decision to take up a pen after a prestigious military medical career is fascinating, showing the appeal that literary activity held for the medical profession at this time.

[1] ‘Obituary: Henry Martineau Greenhow’, BMJ, 14 December 1912, p. 1694.

[2] [Hilda Gregg], ‘The Indian Mutiny in Fiction’, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 161 (February 1897), 218-231, (p. 224, 218).

[3] ‘Books and Authors by Paper Knife’, Hearth and Home, 9 April 1896, p. 836.

[4] ‘Fiction’, Speaker, 14 March 1896, pp. 324-5 (p. 325).

[5] Henry Martineau Greenhow, Brenda’s Experiment (London: Jarrold, 1896), p. 149. Further references are given after quotations in the text.

[6] ‘The Services: Deaths in the Services’, Lancet, 7 December 1912, p. 1609.

[7] ‘Obituary: Henry Martineau Greenhow’, p. 1694.

The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation (1890-)

Ent Record no. 1

Title page of the very first number of the Entomologist’s Record

In 1890, a schoolmaster and lepidopterist named James William Tutt (1858-1911) established a periodical intended to ‘supply a magazine devoted entirely to the wants of British entomologists’. According to Tutt, the two other existing periodicals, the Entomologist and the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, contained far too much on foreign species that had no real use or application for the those whose collecting was limited to Britain. The Record allowed short notices in which entomologists exchanged information regarding their fieldwork, much in the same manner as they would through private correspondence. Tutt made this comparison explicit, claiming that much of the most important things he had learnt from others had been communicated ‘in a casual way’ through letters.

Ent Record v. 4

A coloured plate from volume 4 of the Entomologist’s Record (1893), showing the varieties of some British Lepidoptera

Tutt himself was a bullish character, and his forthright manner did not endear him to some. He was dedicated to a thoroughly scientific and biological approach to entomology, and the Entomologist’s Record reflects this. The very title of the periodical points to major shifts in the life sciences, particularly when compared to an earlier publication such as the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61). While correspondents to the latter periodical had openly mocked Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species when it was published in 1859, the Entomologist’s Record was expressly intended to allow collectors to share information regarding the variations within species that form the basis of evolutionary theory. Much of the work done by entomologists during the nineteenth century was primarily concerned with the classification of species, determining and delineating the differences between insects and sorting them accordingly. This task was not a simple one, as insects exist in a multitude of forms that defy any attempt to arrange them into a satisfactory system. As much of this process was carried out through the study of dead and dried specimens, far less attention was given to the insect as a living organism. Furthermore, the question of how such a profusion of variation had come about was considered by many naturalists to be beyond the bounds of reasonable speculation. However, by the 1890s, a new generation of entomologists were seeking to address this issue, taking up the theories of Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, and placing a greater focus on understanding the physiology of insects.

The best illustration of this shift in emphasis is supplied by Tutt himself, who is perhaps best known today as among the first entomologists to observe and speculate as to the cause of industrial melanism that occurred in the peppered moth, which has become one of the most celebrated (and controversial) examples of natural selection. Moths of this species were observed to be of a darker colour in certain localities, and it was in the Entomologist’s Record that the implications of this difference were first seriously considered by Tutt and his peers. Various solutions to the question were suggested, including differences in climate or diet, but it is now considered to be the result of air pollution. The peppered moth had evolved to be light in colour, in order to be camouflaged against the lichens growing on the bark of trees, but the industrialisation of the nineteenth-century led to a decline in air quality, killing off much of the lichen and staining the tree trunks with soot. Within the affected areas, the moths adapted through natural selection to become almost black in colour, thereby ensuring greater protection from predators. The Entomologist’s Record and those who contributed to it were therefore key players in this now-famous discovery.

The distinctive cover image of the Entomologist’s Record was produced by Frederick William Frohawk (1861-1946), who became a distinguished entomologist and zoological artist. The Record continues to be published, and only recently ceased to use this illustration.

peppered moth.jpg

Lighter and darker varieties of the peppered moth, from Richard South’s Moths of the British Isles (1907-09)


Frederick James Gant (1825-1905)

Frederick James Gant first appeared on my research radar when I was examining attitudes towards women in medicine. In 1892, the British Medical Association (BMA) debated whether to admit women as members. Gant spoke passionately in support, noting that – though he had initially been unsympathetic to the cause – he felt medical women had acquitted themselves creditably. He argued that there could be ‘no doubt’ as to their ‘professional, social, and moral character’.[1] The BMA eventually voted in favour and Gant’s intercession may have exerted an important influence. He was a well-respected figure; his 1905 obituary in the Lancet recorded his ‘prominent position among London surgeons’ and that he was ‘well known as an industrious author’ on medical and non-medical matters.[2]

Gant was born in 1825 in Kingsland, London. His father was a military man; Lieutenant Colonel John Castle Gant of the King’s Own 2nd Light Infantry. As he would later record in his autobiography, the young Gant was a premature child ‘of puny body and weakly health’. He was sent to Eastbourne and then Hastings where he ‘acquired an intense love of nature and eventually more than average strength’, as the BMJ related in his obituary.[3]

Returning to London, Gant was educated at King’s College School. After losing his parents, he became assistant to a pharmaceutical chemist in Shoreditch. At the age of 16, he entered University College London as a medical student. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) in 1849 and would later become a Fellow (1861).

Gant began his medical career in relatively ‘straitened circumstances’ but conditions soon improved.[4] He took rooms in Old Cavendish Street and in 1852 began practising as a consulting surgeon. He also lectured at the short-lived Hunterian School of Medicine on Bedford Square, first on physiology and then on anatomy too. When the school closed, Gant moved (along with the students) to the Royal Free Hospital. The Royal Free was not recognised as a school by the RCS since its anatomy and pathology museum was deemed ‘insufficiently equipped’.[5] Although the students transferred to Middlesex Hospital in 1854, Gant remained as Surgeon to the Royal Free and worked to improve its museum.[6]

Pathology Museum, Royal Free

Royal Free Hospital, London: the interior of the museum in the pathological block. Process print, 1913. (Wellcome Collection)

In the last year of the Crimean War (1853-6), Gant acted as Civil Surgeon in the military hospitals in the Crimea and at Scutari, and he received a medal with a clasp for Sebastopol. He returned to England in May 1856, after a severe illness.

His first book followed soon after. It was inspired by a casual visit to the Smithfield Club Cattle Show in 1857, where he was struck by the obesity of the animals on display. The Evil Results of Overfeeding Cattle: A New Inquiry (1858) demonstrated that the cattle’s tissue had undergone fatty degeneration, indicating that prizes were being given for bulk and weight of fat over the quality of the meat. Gant’s report attracted letters of thanks from leading exhibitors and breeders, including the Prince Consort and the Duke of Richmond.[7]

Throughout his career, Gant published widely. His work on the Principles of Surgery (1864) spawned two later editions. The 1871 version contained one of the earliest notices of antiseptic treatment found in any work on surgery. The BMJ suggested it was the earliest, though this claim was queried by the Lancet.[8] This material was written from monographs sent by Professor Lister at Gant’s request. Gant also produced Diseases of the Bladder, Prostate Gland, and Urethra (1876); The Student’s Surgery (1890); and a Guide to the Examinations by the Conjoint Board in England and for the Diploma of the FRCSEng (1874), which reached seven editions by 1889. The BMJ’s reviewer was sceptical about whether students should rely on such guides rather than proper tuition, but acknowledged the ‘large demand’ for the book.[9]

Gant was also a frequent contributor and correspondent to the medical press, offering clinical lectures and letters on issues such as affairs of the RCS Council.[10] At one point, he wrote in defence of his own ‘professional honour’ in reference to an intraprofessional dispute.[11] Gant was also active in professional societies. He was President of the Medical Society of London in 1880-1 and was for two years Vice-President of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society.

Gant’s professional life was rich and varied. Around 1877 he became medical attendant to two famous pedestrian-athletes; the Canadian E. Payson Weston and the Welsh William Gale, both of whom won fame for the huge distances they walked. Gant tended to both during their public performances.[12]

Gant also wrote a diverse range of non-medical works, and it was this literary activity (and its reception by the medical press) that piqued my interest. The novel Perfect Womanhood (1895) follows the struggles and romantic adventures of a young medical man, and like its sequel The Latest Fruit is the Ripest (1898) it was semi-autobiographical. The Lancet praised the former for its ‘genteel’ female characters, reassuring readers that they would encounter ‘no woman with “views”’.[13] Perfect Womanhood was reviewed alongside another work of fiction by a medical man – Arthur Conan Doyle’s semi-autobiographical novella, The Stark Munro Letters (1895). Gant’s later work, The Lord of Humanity, Or the Testimony of Human Consciousness (1899), was a ‘statement of personal religious convictions’ which was received positively by the BMJ.[14] Mock Nurses of the Latest Fashion (1900) was a collection of short stories which lampooned nurses. It was written during a period of suffering and Gant’s BMJ obituary opined that this might have ‘coloured the author’s perception’ and ‘led to his sweeping denunciation of the entire profession because of the few examples with which he was brought into contact’.[15]

Gant continued working as senior surgeon to the Royal Free Hospital until 1890 and during his final 12 years he was involved in training early cohorts of women doctors. From 1878, students at the London School of Medicine for Women joined clinical training at the Royal Free. By his own admission, Gant was not originally in favour of the movement for women’s medical education but he revised his position through his observations and experiences. When he spoke in support of medical women at the BMA’s meeting, he claimed to know ‘something not only of their intellectual qualifications, but of their social and moral character’. His desire to defend them across all fronts illustrates the obstacles they faced in gaining professional recognition. Gant said that he had initially thought they might ‘seek to enter the profession upon the easiest terms’ but he reflected with admiration that they had ‘taken the hardest road in nearly every instance’. He dismissed the fact they had not yet been admitted by the RCS, describing it as ‘a slow-going machine […] old and rickety’. Moreover, he concluded it was ‘a waste of time’ to discuss women’s admission since the BMA could not ‘exclude any body of legally-qualified practitioners’. He asserted that he spoke not only as the women’s former teacher but because it was ‘a matter of right and justice’.[16] It is interesting that a medical man whose literary treatment of women was rather conservative had acted as a passionate defender of women’s rights within the profession.

Gant’s somewhat saccharine romantic tendencies might be traced to his personal life. In 1859, he married Matilda Crawshaw, who later inspired the character Mabel Carlton in Perfect Womanhood. Mabel is the wife of a young practitioner and the romance plot borrows heavily from Gant and Crawshaw’s own courtship. They were married for 40 years before her death in 1899 and they had a son who died in infancy. Both the Lancet and the BMJ’s obituaries emphasised the couple’s devotion and the former added that Matilda’s death came as a ‘serious shock’ to Gant.[17]

During his final decade, Gant’s health deteriorated. His BMJ obituary was remarkably graphic about his illness, detailing that he underwent lithotrity, a surgical procedure breaking down large calculi, and that he required daily catheterisation for some years. By this point, Gant had retired from active medical work but he maintained his ‘literary pursuits’.[18] Several months before his death he released an Autobiography. The Lancet’s review commended the author on setting forth his private and public life in a ‘modest and graceful way’.[19]

Gant Obituary

Gant’s obituary in the Lancet (1905)

He died at the age of 80, from pneumonia, at his home in Connaught Square in June 1905. The funeral took place in Richmond, Surrey where he was buried with his wife. He had placed the following words on her tomb: ‘To the unspeakable distress of her husband, his age and bodily affliction debar him from ever visiting her grave, at a distance of ten miles from London’.[20] The way in which this was recalled by the medical press shows its interest in humanising an eminent medical man.

[1] ‘British Medical Association: Admission of Women’, BMJ, 27 August 1892, pp. 481-2 (p. 481).

[2] ‘Obituary: Frederick James Gant, FRCS Eng’, Lancet, 24 June 1905, p. 1758.

[3] ‘Obituary: Frederick James Gant, FRCS Eng’, BMJ, 24 June 1905, pp. 1410-11 (p. 1410).

[4] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1410.

[5] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1410.

[6] ‘Obituary’, Lancet, p. 1758.

[7] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1410.

[8] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1410. ‘Obituary’, Lancet, p. 1758.

[9] ‘Notes on Books’, BMJ, 11 May 1889, pp. 1064-6 (p. 1065).

[10] ‘Correspondence: An Association of the Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons’, BMJ, 11 April 1868, p. 365. ‘Correspondence: The College Election’, Lancet, 20 June 1885, pp. 1146-7.

[11] ‘Correspondence: Medical Evidence at Coroners’ Inquests’, Lancet, 18 February 1865, pp. 188-9 (p. 188).

[12] ‘Obituary’, Lancet, p. 1758.

[13] ‘Library Table’, Lancet, 26 October 1895, pp. 1048-9 (p. 1049).

[14] ‘Reviews and Notices of Books’, BMJ, 26 April 1890, pp. 963-4 (p. 963).

[15] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1411.

[16] ‘British Medical Association: Admission of Women’, p. 481.

[17] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1411. ‘Obituary’, Lancet, p. 1758.

[18] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1411.

[19] ‘Library Table’, Lancet, 25 February 1905, pp. 506-7 (p. 506).

[20] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1411.

The Naturalist (1864-)


Title page of the Naturalist‘s first volume

The year 1864 was a busy one for the business of natural history periodical publishing. Not only did it see the inception of the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine and the revival of the Entomologist, both of which were London-based publications, but in the north of England another periodical was brought into being. The Naturalist, not to be confused with another periodical of the same title (published 1851-58), was a product of the thriving industrial town of Huddersfield. The northern counties, and Yorkshire in particular, were a hotbed of natural history in the nineteenth century, and was home to the first ‘Union’ of natural history societies: the ‘West-Riding Consolidated Naturalists’ Society’, later expanded and renamed simply the Yorkshire Naturalist Union. This organisation, founded in 1861, brought together the various local natural history societies based in towns and cities of the region, aiming to coordinate their efforts in advancing knowledge of the flora and fauna of their native county. Initially, this encompassed six societies over an area of around twenty miles, numbering around 200 members, but this steadily grew to encompass naturalists from across the north of England. The Naturalist, which went through several iterations under different editors and owners during its early years, was closely associated with the Union from the beginning, and continues to serve as their official publication.


Coloured plate showing varieties of Magpie and Garden Tiger moths collected in Huddersfield by the Naturalist‘s editor

The opening address of the Naturalist cited the demise of the Weekly Entomologist (1861-63), and before that the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61), as a reason for beginning another periodical that offered a way for naturalists to exchange correspondence and specimens. The focus of the new publication was not limited to entomology, though insect collecting was purportedly among the most common pursuit among the Yorkshire Union’s members. The chief aim of the Naturalist, however, was to bring together the various clubs and societies, providing a forum through which they could communicate with one another and give some sense of cohesion to their individual efforts. The 1850s onwards saw a notable increase in such groups, and it was observed in the Naturalist that ‘there is scarcely a town in the kingdom, and in the North of England scarcely a village, in which some society, either “Botanical”, or “Entomological”, or “Naturalist” does not exist, whilst “Field Clubs” are continually exploring every portion of the country’. It was hoped a periodical would serve a dual purpose in binding these disparate groups together, but also to publicise their work to a wider public beyond the north of England.

Although the vast majority of these men and women were drawn from a variety of backgrounds, pursuing natural history in their spare time, the efforts of the Union became increasingly well-organised. Influential members sought to mobilise this large and diverse network of practitioners into a rigorously scientific ‘army’ of workers. Against the background of growing specialisation and professionalisation in the life sciences during the later nineteenth century, the Union became a key site in which the naturalist tradition continued to be influential, with regular excursions and surveys undertaken by its members. The Union, and the Naturalist, remain highly active today in recording wildlife and thereby providing valuable biodiversity data.

Yorkshire Union

Members of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union on an excursion in 1903

James Robert Wallace (?-1903)

My last blog post looked at the Indian Medical Record, a journal aimed at independent practitioners in British India. It was founded and edited by James Robert Wallace, a Calcutta-based doctor who campaigned vigorously for medical and social reform.

IMR cover

The IMR‘s cover proudly proclaims Wallace’s editorship.

Little is known of Wallace’s early life and training, though his post-nominal letters reveal that he gained an MD from Brussels and that he was a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Society of Apothecaries in London.

It was not until the 1890s – when he launched the Record – that his name began to feature regularly in the medical press. He became known not only for his editorship of the journal but for his involvement in a series of energetic and high-profile campaigns.

Wallace lobbied for a system of medical registration to be introduced in India. In the absence of an official register (as in Britain), he produced The Medical Register and Directory of the Indian Empire from 1892. This ambitious compendium aimed to ‘clear the way for systematic regulation of medical practice in India’. By providing a list of regular or orthodox practitioners, it hoped to afford ‘the scattered members of the profession […] definite knowledge of one another’s existence’.[1] Reviewing the work, the BMJ wrote that it was ‘on the whole very creditable to [the author’s] enterprise and industry’.[2] Wallace brought his proposal for a system of registration to the attention of professional networks in England, including the General Medical Council and the Royal College of Physicians.[3] Though his efforts were usually well-received, medical registration was not introduced into India until 1912, almost a decade after his death.[4]

Wallace also agitated for an Indian Medical Association (IMA), which was established in 1895 along similar lines to the British Medical Association. At its first Annual General Meeting, the IMA stated that it was intended for ‘every section of our profession recognised as “qualified”’,[5] a term designed to compensate for the lack of an official Medical Register. Wallace later became the IMA’s Secretary and the Record became the Association’s mouthpiece.

In both medical and social affairs, Wallace campaigned for the rights of Anglo-Indians. This term typically referred to those of British descent born and raised or long-domiciled in India, and sometimes to those of mixed racial heritage. In 1897, Wallace visited England to agitate for greater rights for this community on behalf of the Anglo-Indian Associations. He spoke to MPs and members of Government at the India Office and War Office. In particular, he highlighted the way in which Anglo-Indians were excluded from imperial appointments and called for them to be treated as British. (Issues that were also covered in the Record.) After a six-month campaigning stint, Wallace’s return was celebrated with a gathering of the local European and Anglo-Indian community at the Bombay Town Hall.[6] The BMJ commended Wallace’s ‘laudable ambition’ and ‘attitude of energy and self-help’.[7] As explored in my previous post, however, while Wallace called for greater recognition for Anglo-Indians and Eurasians, his attitude towards ‘natives’ was vexed and deeply problematic.

Alongside his campaigns, Wallace also pursued his medical practice and recorded his clinical observations. These were often printed in the Record and also circulated via British medical journals.[8]

News of Wallace’s difficult personal life also appeared in the medical press. In 1893, the BMJ reported that his wife had given birth to a son,[9] while in 1896 and 1899, the Lancet noted the births of his daughters.[10] However, less than two months after this second announcement, tragedy had struck. The BMJ reported that Wallace’s ‘much-loved daughters’ – Ruth Elizabeth (aged 9) and Phoebe (aged 3) – had been killed by a landslip during ‘the disastrous cyclone and floods’ in Darjeeling, Bengal.[11] In all these instances, the news was reported in the journals’ ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’ columns, which charged a fee for inserting items. One wonders whether it was Wallace himself who sought to share both his personal joys and sorrows with his professional peers in Britain.

Births, Marriages and Deaths

The Lancet reports the deaths of Wallace’s daughters.

It is possible to reconstruct aspects of Wallace’s professional and personal life through a patchwork of sources across the medical press. He seems to have been a tireless and zealous campaigner, much like Thomas Wakeley, editor of the Lancet. Similarly, Wallace’s passionate and sometimes vituperative tone attracted criticism. In 1891, the Lancet printed a letter from Wallace on debates about how best to monitor a patient’s progress under anaesthesia (Wallace favoured checking respiration over the pulse). An editorial note inserted afterwards suggested that a certain portion of Wallace’s letter had been ‘omitted’ since it was ‘couched in language more vigorous than polite’.[12]

Wallace’s close involvement in medical journalism and professional societies, and his active campaigns for medical and social reform show his interest in building networks and promoting opportunities for his fellow Anglo-Indians. When Wallace died in 1903, a large group gathered under the auspices of the Imperial Anglo-Indian Association to celebrate his humble beginnings, his ‘untiring zeal and energy’, and his ‘constant and abiding interest in the welfare of the domiciled Anglo-Indian community’.[13]

[1] ‘Reviews and Notices of Books: Our Library Table’, Lancet, 19 March 1892, p. 64.

[2] ‘Reviews: The Medical Register and Directory of the Indian Empire’, BMJ, 18 February 1899, p. 415.

[3] ‘Royal College of Physicians of London’, Lancet, 6 November 1897, pp. 1212-13 (p. 1212).

[4] It was instituted first in Bengal before being extended to other Presidencies in 1914.

[5] ‘The First Annual General Meeting of the Indian Medical Association’, IMR, 16 January 1895, pp. 52-4 (p. 52).

[6] ‘Medical News: The Anglo-Indian Associations’, Lancet, 6 November 1897, p. 1226.

[7] ‘The Anglo-Indian’, BMJ, 5 March 1898, p. 645.

[8] See, for example, ‘Retention of an Almost Full-Term Placenta for Two Months’, Lancet, 4 July 1891, p. 30.

[9] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, BMJ, 28 October 1893, p. 978.

[10] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, Lancet, 1 August 1896, p. 357 and 23 September 1899, p. 868.

[11] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, Lancet, 21 October 1899, p. 1140.

[12] James R. Wallace, ‘Correspondence: The Use of Chloroform’, Lancet, 13 June 1891, p. 1139.

[13] ‘The Late Dr. James Robert Wallace, M.D., F.R.C.S.’, IMR, 4 November 1903, pp. 1144-6.

The Entomologist (1840-42, 1864-1973)

The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine was not the only periodical launched in 1864 that catered exclusively to those who collected and studied insects. Unbeknownst to Henry Tibbats Stainton, Thomas Blackburn, and their fellow editors of the Monthly Magazine, others were plotting to fill the gap in the market left by the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61). In fact, it was someone very well known to them who would beat them to it, when Edward Newman (1801-1876) commenced the Entomologist in May, a whole month before his unwitting rivals. Newman, the head of a printing company that specialised in natural history publications, was proprietor and editor of the Zoologist (1843-1916). As a friend of Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822-1893), Newman had also printed the Intelligencer, although their relationship had since become less close. According to Newman, many saw him as the man to remedy the lack of an entomological periodical, as he claimed that ‘between the demise of the Intelligencer and the birth of the short-lived Weekly Entomologist I had no less than ninety-seven pressing solicitations to commence an entomological periodical’.

entomologist 2

Title page of the Entomologist‘s second volume

The Entomologist of 1864 was not a new periodical, but a revival of the same journal Newman had originally published from 1840 to 1842. At the end of this first volume, he decided to merge the Entomologist with the Zoologist, a decision that was likely to have been at least partly informed by financial considerations, as unlike his friend Stainton, Newman had no independent wealth with which to fund his periodicals. A specialised magazine such as the Entomologist was not a commercially viable option in the 1840s, while the Zoologist appealed to a wider readership and thereby turned a profit. However, by the 1860s, and in the wake of the Intelligencer‘s success, it seems there was a much more considerable demand for an exclusively entomological periodical. The second volume of the Entomologist therefore commenced in 1864, over twenty years after the end of the first, with this hiatus possibly being the longest lapse of time between consecutively numbered volumes in periodical history.

In terms of contents, the Entomologist was a mix of the shorter notices and observations common to almost all natural history periodicals of the period. Following in the populist spirit of all Newman’s publications, it admitted a wide variety of contributors and was far less exclusive than the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine. A noteworthy contributor to the magazine during 1877 was Eleanor Anne Ormerod (1828-1901), who published a series of articles on the subject of injurious insects including the turnip weevil and the Colorado beetle. That same year, Ormerod issued the first of her Notes for Observations of Injurious Insects, a questionnaire through which she collated information regarding species that posed a threat to crops, and would go on to be appointed as consulting entomologist to the Royal Agricultural Society in 1882. As the name of the Colorado beetle suggests, it originated in the United States, where it had become a major pest to potatoes. In 1877, reports of its arrival in Europe – aided by unwitting human transportation – raised considerable alarm. As Ormerod noted, beetles had been found in Liverpool, presumably brought by the ships coming to dock there. She gave a brief account of their lifecycle and appearance, and warned ‘at present we have only to do with stragglers; it is of the greatest importance to spread knowledge of their appearance over the country as rapidly as possible, that none of these may escape’.

colorado beetle

Eleanor Ormerod’s article on the Colorado Beetle, given prime position at the start of the issue for September 1877

At Edward Newman’s death in 1876, the Entomologist remained under the ownership of his son, Thomas Prichard Newman. The editorship was given over to John Thomas Carrington (1846-1908), a naturalist and journalist who would later purchase the popular natural history periodical Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip. In 1890, the Entomologist was acquired by the wealthy lepidoperist John Henry Leech (1862-1900). Although Leech did not travel himself, he had amassed a vast number of butterflies from China, Japan, and Korea through the efforts of collectors working on his behalf. Leech intended to use the Entomologist as a medium through which to publish the research upon these specimens, and accordingly appointed the curator of his collection, Richard South (1846-1932), as editor of the periodical. Subsequently, under various different editors and owners, the Entomologist would be published continuously until 1973.

Newman grave

A small woodcut memorialising Edward Newman in the Entomologist following his death in 1876




Programme and Registration for Workshop: Self-Fashioning Scientific Identities in the Long Nineteenth Century

University of Leicester, 15th June 2018, Charles Wilson Building 408


Keynote: Dr Patricia Fara, University of Cambridge

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was no such thing as a scientist. While professional careers in science were gradually formalised, many scientific practitioners aspired to none at all. Lacking blueprints to guide their behaviour, practitioners of all descriptions had to carve out their own identities to demonstrate expertise, prestige, taste, authority.

Scholars of nineteenth-century science and culture have revealed diverse scientific identities, including romantic geologists, chemical-wielding showmen, and poetic physicists, alongside artisan botanists, unpaid draughtswomen, and husband-and-wife collaborations. Recent scholarship complicates rigid distinctions between amateur and professional, populariser and primary researcher, and scientific writing and imaginative prose, producing increasingly nuanced studies of the ways in which scientific practitioners sought to shape their own identities.

Stephen Greenblatt’s now-classic study of ‘self-fashioning’ demonstrated how one might carve out for oneself ‘a distinctive personality, a characteristic address to the world, a consistent mode of perceiving and behaving’. The speakers at this one-day workshop will examine how complex changes in scientific culture can be considered through the lens of self-fashioning. Their papers cover an array of topics that include discussions of disciplinarity, life writing, authority, and the popularisation of science.

Please see the programme below. Those interested in attending should email with any dietary or access requirements. The workshop is free and the deadline for registration is May 23rd.

Funding for this day has been provided by the generous support of the Constructing Scientific Communities project.

SelfSci Full Programme_Page_1SelfSci Full Programme_Page_2