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A Moment in History

Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)
Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)

Henry Vandyke Carter, MD
(1831 – 1897)

English physician, surgeon, medical artist, and a pioneer in leprosy and mycetoma studies.  HV Carter was born in Yorkshire in 1831. He was the son of Henry Barlow Carter, a well-known artist and it is possible that he honed his natural talents with his father. His mother picked his middle name after a famous painter, Anthony Van Dyck. This is probably why his name is sometimes shown as Henry Van Dyke Carter, although the most common presentation of his middle name is Vandyke.

Having problems to finance his medical studies, HV Carter trained as an apothecary and later as an anatomical demonstrator at St. George’s Hospital in London, where he met Henry Gray (1872-1861), who was at the time the anatomical lecturer. Having seen the quality of HV Carter’s drawings, Henry Gray teamed with him to produce one of the most popular and longer-lived anatomy books in history: “Gray’s Anatomy”, which was first published in late 1857.  The book itself, about which many papers have been written, was immediately accepted and praised because of the clarity of the text as well as the incredible drawings of Henry Vandyke Carter.

While working on the book’s drawings, HV Carter continued his studies and received his MD in 1856.

In spite of initially being offered a co-authorship of the book, Dr. Carter was relegated to the position of illustrator by Henry Gray and never saw the royalties that the book could have generated for him. For all his work and dedication, Dr. Carter only received a one-time payment of 150 pounds. Dr.  Carter never worked again with Gray, who died of smallpox only a few years later.

Frustrated, Dr. Carter took the exams for the India Medical Service.  In 1858 he joined as an Assistant Surgeon and later became a professor of anatomy and physiology. Even later he served as a Civil Surgeon. During his tenure with the India Medical Service he attained the ranks of Surgeon, Surgeon-Major, Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel, and Brigade-Surgeon.

Dr. Carter dedicated the rest of his life to the study of leprosy, and other ailments typical of India at that time. He held several important offices, including that of Dean of the Medical School of the University of Bombay. In 1890, after his retirement, he was appointed Honorary Physician to the Queen.

Dr. Henry Vandyke Carter died of tuberculosis in 1897.

Personal note: Had history been different, this famous book would have been called “Gray and Carter’s Anatomy” and Dr. Carter never gone to India. His legacy is still seen in the images of the thousands of copies of “Gray’s Anatomy” throughout the world and the many reproductions of his work available on the Internet. We are proud to use some of his images in this blog. The image accompanying this article is a self-portrait of Dr. Carter. Click on the image for a larger depiction. Dr. Miranda

Sources:
1. “Obituary: Henry Vandyke Carter” Br Med J (1897);1:1256-7
2. “The Anatomist: A True Story of ‘Gray’s Anatomy” Hayes W. (2007) USA: Ballantine
3. “A Glimpse of Our Past: Henry Gray’s Anatomy” Pearce, JMS. J Clin Anat (2009) 22:291–295
4. “Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter: Creators of a famous textbook” Roberts S. J Med Biogr (2000) 8:206–212.
5. “Henry Vandyke Carter and his meritorious works in India” Tappa, DM et al. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol (2011) 77:101-3


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Sir William Osler


This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.
Sir William Osler (1849-1919). William Osler was born in Bond Head, Canada, in what today is known as Ontario, of English parents. He started his college studies to become a minister, but realizing his true vocation was in medicine, he entered the Toronto School of Medicine, earning his medical degree in 1872.

Osler completed postgraduate studies in Europe, returning as a Professor at the McGill University. In 1884 he moved to Philadelphia to the University of Pennsylvania. In 1889 he left to become Physician-in-Chief and one of the founders of the newly-built John Hopkins hospital. His contributions to this new hospital and the American medical education are innumerable. Dr. Osler initiated the residency programs used today, as well as the programs of third and fourth year medical students in bedside patient rounds.

A prolific writer, Dr. Osler penned over 1,500 articles, monographs, and books, some of which are famous. His “Principles and Practice of Medicine” was published for a record 17 editions and 76 years (1892 -1968)! One of his most famous addresses is “Aequanimitas”, which he delivered when leaving the University of Pennsylvania.

Sir William Osler
Original image courtesy of "Images from the History of Medicine" at  www.nih.gov
In 1905 Dr. Osler accepted the position of Royal Chair of Medicine at Oxford, in England, and in 1911 he was awarded the title of “Sir William Osler”.

Personal Note: In June 1999, I had the opportunity to visit the collection of the John Martin Rare Book Room at the University of Iowa Medical School. I was allowed to read and handle original copies of the Fabrica and the Epitome by Vesalius as well as other original and rare medical books, including De Muto Cordis, by William Harvey. The books I had the opportunity to review were placed on an antique desk that belonged to Sir William Osler. A moment that has stayed with me, as it was the confluence of great individuals: Andreas Vesalius, the anatomist; William Harvey, the physiologist, and Sir William Osler, the medical educator. Dr. Miranda

Sources:
“Sir William Osler, M.D., C.M.” Sarik, J. Yeo, Ch.Pinckney J. The American Surgeon78.4 (2012): 385-7.
“Sir William Osler and gastroenterology” Chaun H. Can J Gastroenterol (2010) 24:10 615-618
“Sir William Osler (1849-1919)” Haas, LF J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1999 67: 137
“Sir William Osler (1849-1919)”Christian, HA Proc Amer Acad Arts Sci (1922) 496-499

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