American views of Sir Victor Horsley in the era of Cushing

Restricted access

Sir Victor Horsley was a pioneering British neurosurgeon known for his numerous neurosurgical, scientific, and sociopolitical contributions. Although word of these surgical and scientific achievements quickly spread throughout Europe and North America in the late 19th century, much of modern neurosurgery’s view of Horsley has been colored by a single anecdote from John Fulton’s biography of Harvey Cushing. In this account, Cushing observes a frenetic Horsley hastily removing a Gasserian ganglion from a patient in the kitchen of a British mansion. Not long after, Cushing left Britain saying that he had little to learn from British neurosurgery. The authors of this paper examined contemporary views of Horsley to assess what his actual reputation was in the US and Canada. The authors conducted a thorough search of references to Horsley using the following sources: American surgical and neurosurgical textbooks; major biographies; diary entries and letters; PubMed; newspaper articles; and surgical and neurosurgical texts. The positive reception of his work is corroborated by invitations for Horsley to speak in America. Research additionally revealed that Horsley had numerous personal and professional relationships with prominent Americans in medicine, including William Osler, John Wheelock Elliot, Ernest Sachs, and (yes) Harvey Cushing. Horsley’s contributions to medicine and science were heavily reported in American newspapers; outside of neurosurgery, his strong opposition to the antivivisectionists and his support for alcohol prohibition were widely reported in popular media. Horsley’s contributions to neurosurgery in America are undeniable. Writings from and about prominent Americans reveal that he was viewed favorably by those who had met him. Frequent publication of his views in the American media suggests that medical professionals and the public in the US valued his contributions on scientific as well as social issues. Horsley died too young, but not without the international recognition that was rightly his.

ABBREVIATIONS MGH = Massachusetts General Hospital.

Article Information

Correspondence Michael Schulder: Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, NY. mschulder@northwell.edu.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online March 9, 2018; DOI: 10.3171/2017.8.JNS171438.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

Headings

Figures

  • View in gallery

    Photograph of Sir Victor Horsley with his dog Noah. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), Wellcome Library no. 12928i.

  • View in gallery

    A headline reporting Sir Victor Horsley’s first successful operation for epilepsy in the Richmond Dispatch, September 12, 1886.

  • View in gallery

    An 1892 headline from the New York Times profiling Victor Horsley’s experiments and conflict with the antivivisectionists.

  • View in gallery

    An American advertisement from the Scientific Temperance Federation in Boston, Massachusetts, concerning the effects of alcohol on the human body citing Horsley’s Alcohol and the Human Body on the bottom left. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), Wellcome Library no. 679992i. Figure is available in color online only.

  • View in gallery

    Photograph of Sir Victor Horsley, at the far left, taken for his address in Toronto. His bulk is from a large antiseptic dressing placed to sterilize the skin prior to an appendectomy he was to undergo the next morning. Image courtesy of the Queen Square Archives, University College London.

  • View in gallery

    Photograph of Sir Victor Horsley speaking to a large crowd. Image courtesy of the Queen Square Archives, University College London.

References

1

Bond CJ: Recollections of Student Life and Later Days. London: HK Lewis1939

2

Bucy PC: Neurosurgical Giants—Feet of Clay and Iron. New York: Elsevier1985

3

Cameron JL: William Stewart Halsted. Our surgical heritage. Ann Surg 225:4454581997

4

Canale DJ: William Osler and “the special field of neurological surgery”. J Neurosurg 70:7597661989

5

Citizen: Alcohol and doctors. Citizen. June 23 1904 2 (col. 5)

6

Codman EA: John Wheelock Elliot, MD. N Engl J Med 198:99410041928

7

Cushing H: The Life of Sir William Osler. London: Oxford University Press1925

8

Cushing H: The Pituitary Body and Its Disorders: Clinical States Produced by Disorders of the Hypophysis Cerebri. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott1910

9

Cushing H: Surgery. Its Principles and Practice. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders1908

10

Dunnill MS: Victor Horsley (1857–1915) and National Insurance. J Med Biogr 21:2492542013

11

Evening Star: Cerebral localization. Evening Star. September 20 1888 5 (col. 3)

12

Evening Star: World of society. Evening Star. August 30 1906 5 (col. 5)

13

Frazier CH: Surgery of the Spine and Spinal Cord. New York: D. Appleton1918

14

Fulton JF: Harvey Cushing: A Biography. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas1946

15

Gavrus D: Skill, judgement and conduct for the first generation of neurosurgeons, 1900–1930. Med Hist 59:3613782015

16

Horrax G: Neurosurgery. An Historical Sketch. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas1952

17

Horsley VSturge MD: Alcohol and the Human Body: An Introduction to the Study of the Subject and a Contribution to National Health. London: Macmillan1909

18

Indianapolis Journal: Artificial respiration. It should be employed when the head is wounded by gunshot. Indianapolis Journal. January 10 1897 3 (col. 5)

19

Liberal Democrat: Rum in the British Army. Liberal Democrat. May 7 1915 5 (col. 5)

20

Lyons JB: The Citizen Surgeon. A Biography of Sir Victor Horsley 1857–1916. London: Dawnay1966

21

Lyons JB: Sir Victor Horsley. Med Hist 11:3613731967

22

Lyons JB: Sir Victor Horsley (1857–1916) revisited in Rose FC (ed): Twentieth Century Neurology: The British Contribution. London: Imperial College Press2001

23

MacNalty A: Sir Victor Horsley: his life and work. Br Med J 1(5024):9109161957

24

New York Daily Tribune: About people and social incidents. New York Daily Tribune. August 30 1906 6 (col. 5)

25

New York Times: Blames secret diplomacy: One of the two chief causes of the war, says Sir Victor Horsley. New York Times. January 1 1915 3 (col. 8)

26

New York Times: The relative size of brains. New York Times. August 4 1907 6 (col. 2)

27

New York Times: Sir Victor Horsley defends vivisection. New York Times. September 20 1908 Sect C; 3 (col. 7)

28

New York Times: Threatening more prohibition. New York Times. March 2 1915 8 (col. 4)

29

New York Times: Treats brain with needle. New York Times. September 3 1911 Sect C; 3 (col. 5)

30

New York Times: The vivisector’s battle—Prof. Horsley’s laboratory for studying the live beast. New York Times. October 30 1892 1 (col. 3)

31

New York Times: Why we swing our arms. New York Times. June 27 1909 Sect C; 1 (col. 1)

32

Osler W: On the conditions of the brain suitable for operative interference. Can Practitioner 14:1651671889

33

Osler W: Sir Victor Horsley, a study of his life and work. Review. Oxford Magazine 38:1751920

34

Osler W: Sir Victor Horsley. Obituary. Br Med J 2:1651916

35

Osler W: The thyroid gland and myxedema. Med Newsl (Lond) 46:3811885

36

Osler W: The VII International Medical Congress, London August 10, 1881. Can Med Surg J 10:1211251881

37

Paget S: Sir Victor Horsley: A Study of His Life and Work. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe1920

38

Pascual JMPrieto RMazzarello P: Sir Victor Horsley: pioneer craniopharyngioma surgeon. J Neurosurg 123:39512015

39

Pollock JRAkinwunmi JScaravilli FPowell MP: Transcranial surgery for pituitary tumors performed by Sir Victor Horsley. Neurosurgery 52:9149262003

40

Powell MP: Sir Victor Horsley at the birth of neurosurgery. Brain 139:6316342016

41

Richmond Dispatch: Brain surgery. Successful treatment of three patients who suffered from epileptic fits. Richmond Dispatch. September 12 1886 7 (col. 3)

42

Sachs E: Reminiscences of an American student. Br Med J:916917

43

Sachs E: Victor Horsley. J Neurosurg 15:2402441958

44

Starr M: Brain Surgery. New York: William Wood & Company1893

45

Stone JLVilensky JMcCauley TS: Neurosurgery 100 years ago: the Queen Square letters of Foster Kennedy. Neurosurgery 57:7978082005

46

Sun: Value of alcohol as a drug. Sun. September 9 1906 6 (col. 7)

47

Tan TCBlack PM: Sir Victor Horsley (1857–1916): pioneer of neurological surgery. Neurosurgery 50:6076122002

48

Taylor DC: One hundred years of epilepsy surgery: Sir Victor Horsley’s contribution. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 49:4854881986

49

Toronto Daily Star: The doctors’ daily rounds. Toronto Daily Star. August 22 1906 1 (col. 7–8)

50

Toronto Daily Star: Doctors welcomed to Toronto by the mayor. Toronto Daily Star. August 21 1906 1 (col. 5–6)

51

Washington Herald: Defends flat-nosed bullet. Washington Herald. January 3 1915 (col. 6)

TrendMD

Metrics

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 50 50 50
Full Text Views 34 34 34
PDF Downloads 41 41 41
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0

PubMed

Google Scholar