Medical student 1863–70

Ann Scott, Mervyn Eadie and Andrew Lees

in William Richard Gowers 1845-1915

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199692316
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191753527 | DOI:
Medical student 1863–70

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Gowers began his medical training at a time of great, and often controversial, changes in public health, medical science, and medical education. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that it was discovered that bacteria might be the origin of infections. In 1854, Dr John Snow removed the handle of a water pump in Soho—thus demonstrating, having cut off that supply of water, that in the cholera epidemic then raging the ‘impure water supply’ of the Vauxhall Water Company had been responsible for far more fatalities than those in the population having the ‘improved supply’ of the Lambeth Company. Snow was a generation older than Gowers. Born in Yorkshire in 1813, he served a long apprenticeship in the north before going to London. He graduated from London University in 1844, his training still conforming to the standards set by the 1815 Apothecaries Act. Despite his research, many people remained convinced that diseases such as cholera were spread through noxious air, or ‘miasma’. Fortunately, the sewerage system was being modernized by the time Gowers and his mother made their permanent move to London.

Chapter.  10137 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; History of Medicine

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