An exhibition of material from the Monash University Library

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36. Hunter, John, 1728-1793.

A treatise on the venereal disease / By John Hunter. 2nd ed. (London : G. Nicol; and Mr. J. Johnson, 1788)

A very nice quarto copy, dealing with a topic that is strongly represented in this collection. We hear of doctors performing experiments upon themselves; a recent example is Barry Marshall, of Perth, who ingested a culture of Helicobacter pylori to see if he could produce gastritis. This formed part of the work for which Marshall and his collaborator, Robin Warren, shared the Nobel Prize in 2005. In Hunter’s day, syphilis and gonorrhoea were thought to be caused by the same poison. Hunter tested this hypothesis by inoculating himself with gonorrhoeal discharge from a patient. Unbeknownst to him, the patient had syphilis as well, so he maintained his belief that the two diseases had one cause. The differentiation was finally made by Benjamin Bell, five years later. Hunter’s book is a major contribution to urological surgery. [GM 2377]

Wall Case 3

37. Smellie, William, 1697-1763.

A sett of anatomical tables, with explanations, and an abridgement, of the practice of midwifery : with a view to illustrate a treatise on that subject, and collection of cases / by William Smellie, M.D. (London, 1754)

William Smellie was a Scot who practiced in Lanark for 20 years before coming to London, and setting up as a practitioner of midwifery in 1741; he commissioned these plates to accompany his 3-volume Treatise on the theory and practice of midwifery. There are 39 striking copper-engraved plates, the first accurate illustrations of the foetus in utero and during labour, made from drawings by Jan van Rymsdyk, Dr Pieter Camper and Smellie himself. The University of Auckland produced a facsimile edition of this wonderful atlas in 1971, which I bought on publication. When my first child was born in 1973, however, I was so overjoyed that I gave the book to the obstetrician involved. It was ordained, therefore, that I should replace it, and I bought the original when I had the chance. [GM 6154.1]

Wall Case 4

38. Lizars, John, 1787?-1860.

A system of anatomical plates of the human body, accompanied with descriptions, and physiological and surgical observations / by John Lizars. (Edinburgh : published by W. H. Lizars [1804?])

John Lizars was Professor of Surgery and Anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons at Edinburgh; he did the dissections illustrated here, and his brother, W.H. Lizars, engraved the plates.

Flat Case 1


39.Cooper, Astley, Sir, 1768-1841.

The anatomy of the thymus gland / by Sir Astley Cooper, bart. (London, : Longman, Rees, Orme, Green, and Brown, 1832)

This is one of the foundation books of immunology. Cooper was the most popular surgeon in London in the early 19th century, and this is one of his best works. He describes the “reservoir” of the thymus as being lined by a smooth mucous membrane and running spirally through the gland. The copy on display is inscribed “B Travers Esq. – from his old master and real friend. Astley Cooper.” [GM 1119]

40. Burnet, F. M. (Frank Macfarlane), Sir, 1899-1985

The clonal selection theory of acquired immunity / by Sir Macfarlane Burnet. (Nashville, Tenn. : Vanderbilt University Press ; Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1959)

The best book I ever wrote,” was how Sir Macfarlane Burnet described it to me, while he was signing some books at the Hall Institute. This is why I chose this book for display, rather than the earlier Production of Antibodies. For his work on immunological tolerance, Burnet was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1960, shared with Sir Peter Medawar. [GM 2578.31]

41. Greenup, Richard, 1803-1866

Vaccination : a letter addressed by Dr. Simon, medical officer of the General Board of Health, to the president of the Board, on vaccination : presented to the Imperial Parliament by command of Her Majesty, 1857 / abridged for the use of the colony of New South Wales by Richard Greenup (Sydney : Thomas Richards, Govt. Printer, 1859)

Richard Greenup had worked in mental asylums in England and came to Sydney in 1850. As well as private practice, he the first Registrar of the University of Sydney and later Member of the NSW Board of Health, and Medical Advisor to the Government. In 1852 he became Superintendent of the Parramatta asylum, and during a routine inspection, he was stabbed in the abdomen by one of the patients, dying two days later. The book serves as a reminder both of the protection offered by vaccination, and the potential dangers of medical practice. [Ford 768]

Flat Case 2


42. Lewis, Thomas, Sir, 1881-1945.

Report upon soldiers returned as cases of "disordered action of the heart" (D.A.H.) or "valvular disease of the heart" (V.D.H.) / by Thomas Lewis. (London : H.M.S.O., 1917)

This study was initiated because too many soldiers were becoming ill with palpitations and fatigue, attributed to heart disease. Lewis showed that in most cases the hearts were normal, and with explanation of the physiology and avoidance of exhaustion, a return to duty was achieved in 50% at 6 weeks. Similar symptoms are seen in Battle Fatigue, Da Costa’s Syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome and, in civilian practice, chronic fatigue syndrome, and so forth. This copy has a typewritten note added by Sir James Parkinson (1885-1976), who had been Sir James Mackenzie’s chief assistant at the London Hospital in 1913 until the Great War: “The clinical findings and recommendations of this report are based on upon the work of the three medical divisions of which Dr. Lewis, Professor Meakins, and I, respectively, were in charge. J. P.” [GM 2847]

43. Lewis, Thomas, Sir, 1881-1945.

The mechanism and graphic registration of the heart beat / by Thomas Lewis. (London : Shaw, 1920)

Thomas Lewis was a pioneer in the application of the electrocardiograph to clinical medicine. This book is both an exhaustive treatise and a valuable bibliographic tool. [GM 854]

44. Mackenzie, James, Sir, 1853-1925.

The study of the pulse arterial, venous and hepatic and of the movements of the heart / by James MacKenzie. (Edinburgh : Young J. Pentland, 1902)

The “Beloved Physician” (as one biographer has it) started as a general practitioner in Burnley, UK. His patients who had rheumatic fever asked what their outlook was, and he could not tell them; there was no data available. So began an investigation of cardiac function in several thousand patients over twenty years, which saw him become one of the great physiologists of his time. Yet he maintained, to the end, that “no doctor lives long enough to write a reliable book on prognosis.” His first monograph, here displayed, has an illustration of his polygraph, at page 10. [GM 2812]

45. Halford, George Britton MRCS Lond., MRCP, LSA, MD St Andrews (1824-1910)

On the time and manner of closure of the auriculo-ventricular valves / by George B. Halford. (London : John Churchill, 1861)

Halford was appointed inaugural Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology at the University of Melbourne (the first medical school in Australia) in 1862, when he was Lecturer in Anatomy at the Grosvenor Place School of Medicine. In this pamphlet, described by K F Russell as “a classic and well in advance of its time,” he studied the action of the valves by injecting water down the great vessels of the hearts of humans, bullocks and birds. His subsequent career did not permit the luxury of continued researches: he built the reputation of the Melbourne Medical School, at the expense of his own. He presented this copy of the pamphlet to Dr. Dickson, of 16 Hertford St., London. [Ford 807]

Flat Case 3

Metabolic Disorders

46. Vaughan, Kathleen Olga.

The purdah system and its effect on motherhood : osteomalacia caused by absence of light in India / by Kathleen Olga Vaughan. (Cambridge : W. Heffer, 1928)

Vitamin D was discovered in 1922, and its lack shown to be the cause of osteomalacia (rickets) in 1929. A year earlier, Kathleen Vaughan compared the high-born Kashmiri women, veiled from childhood, whose deformed pelves caused them to die from obstructed labour, with the strapping daughters of the local boatmen. This is a hot topic in Australia at the moment.

47. Sheldon, J. H. (Joseph Harold)

Haemochromatosis / by J.H. Sheldon. (London : Oxford University Press, H. Milford, 1935)

It is always a pleasure to find an authoritative, one-author monograph. This book deals with a rare, but treatable, inherited condition. The reason that there are so few copies around is that the publisher’s stocks were destroyed by fire. This is the author’s presentation copy to WF Cholmeley.

48. Nye, L. J. J. (Leslie John Jarvis)

Chronic nephritis and lead poisoning / by L.J. Jarvis Nye. (Sydney : Angus & Robertson, 1933)

An important clinical study in Australian medicine. Children were poisoned by the lead paint used on the railings of the verandas of Queensland houses, either passively from the powdered paint, or actively by licking the raindrops. They played there because the houses were raised on stilts, as in this illustration.

49. Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (Australia)

Insulin : its use in diabetes / Commonwealth Serum Laboratories ; [Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health]. (Melbourne : Albert J. Mullett, Govt. Printer, [1925]

John Wilkinson, as part of his wanderjahr, visited Toronto in September 1922, and saw the clinical use of insulin. He persuaded the Insulin Committee of the University of Toronto that insulin could be manufactured under licence by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Melbourne, only the second place outside Toronto to be granted this right. He demonstrated the initial results to the Victorian Branch of the BMA in June 1923. The story of diabetes in Australia has been told by the Melbourne endocrinologist and medical historian FIR ‘Skip’ Martin (1929-2008), in whose memory this prized item is displayed.

50. Banting, William, 1797-1878.

Letter on corpulence addressed to the public / by William Banting. 4th.ed. (repr. 1883), with prefatory remarks by the author, copious information from correspondents, and confirmatory evidence of the benefit of the dietary system which he recommended to public notice. (London : Harrison, 1875)

This is not the Banting who shared the Nobel Prize in 1923 for the discovery of insulin, but the London cabinet-maker whose method of weight loss by avoiding fat, starch and sugar was first published, and much discussed, in 1864. He gave the world the expressions Bantingism and to bant. Maintenance of the ideal weight – neither too far below, nor too far above – is one of the major public health problems in Australia.

Flat Case 4


51. Bell, Charles, Sir, 1774-1842.

An exposition of the natural system of the nerves of the human body : with a republication of the papers delivered to the Royal Society, on the subject of the nerves / by Charles Bell. (London : Printed by A. & R. Spottiswoode, 1824)

In this book, Bell reprints the paper read before the Royal Society in 1821 [GM 1255 – the long thoracic nerve of Bell; GM 4520 – Bell’s palsy], as well as papers from Philosophical Transactions in 1922 (nerves of the chest) and 1823 (muscles and nerves of the eye). He drew the detailed plates himself.

52. Cairns, Hugh, Sir, 1896-1952.

A study of intracranial surgery / by Hugh Cairns. (London : H.M.S.O., 1929)

Hugh Cairns was born at Port Pirie, South Australia and graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1917. He served in the Australian General Hospitals in France, and had further surgical experience in Oxford and London. In order to develop neurosurgery at the London Hospital, he spent 1926-27 studying the new specialty with Harvey Cushing at the Peter Brigham Young Institute in Boston. This report to the Medical Research Council is the resultant publication. He was the first Nuffield professor of surgery at Oxford, and became an important advisor to the Government in 1937. His study of the use of penicillin in war wounds is also shown (Item 19).

53. Gowers, W. R. (William Richard), 1845-1915.

A manual of diseases of the nervous system / by W.R. Gowers. (London : J. & A. Churchill, 1886-1888) 2 v.

This book used to be called the bible of neurologists. It was always said that before writing up an obscure case, one should read Gowers, to make sure it had not already been described. My own association with Gowers is that my friend Suzanne Walker gave me her inscribed copy of Macdonald Critchley’s biography of Gowers; as his secretary, she had typed it for publication. [GM 4569]

54. Eccles, John C. (John Carew), Sir, 1903-1997

The physiology of synapses / by John Carew Eccles. (Berlin : Springer, 1964)

Sir John Eccles graduated in Medicine at the University of Melbourne and, after working in Oxford, Sydney and Otago, he was Professor of Physiology of the Australian National University from 1952-1966. In 1963 he shared the Nobel Prize with A L Hodgkin and A F Huxley "for their discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane." One of Eccles’ students, Archibald K McIntyre (1913-2002), was the inaugural Professor of Physiology at Monash University from 1962-78, who in turn attracted some of my teachers, Robert Porter and Richard Mark, to the Physiology Department.

55. Cushing, Harvey, 1869-1939.

Intracranial tumours : notes upon a series of two thousand verified cases with surgical-mortality percentges pertaining thereto / by Harvey Cushing. (Springfield, Ill. ; Baltimore, Md. : C.C. Thomas, 1932)

Cushing was a pioneer neurosurgeon in Baltimore and Boston, best known for his description of the basophil adenoma of the pituitary gland, and its effects (Cushing’s syndrome). It may be, however, that his most important contribution was the introduction of blood pressure measurement to North America, following his visit to Riva-Rocci in Turin, soon after his development of the sphygmomanometer in 1896. Cushing made intracranial operations much safer; this book is the last published report of the results of his surgery for brain tumours [GM 4900]

Flat Case 5

Sex Education

56. Stopes, Marie Carmichael, 1880-1958.

Love letters of a Japanese / edited by G.N. Mortlake. 2nd ed. (London : S. Paul, [1911?])

Marie Stopes was one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. She was a palaeobotanist, PhD and DSc, before her first marriage in 1911. The honeymoon was a very unpleasant experience for her (in fact, the 3-year marriage was apparently unconsummated), so she consulted the libraries for information on sexual matters. She was appalled at how little there was, and how inaccurate it was. Rather than display her Married Love, which appeared in 1918 (my copy is not the first edition), I chose this record of the torrid love affair with Professor Kenjiro Fuji. He must have been astonished to find his letters published under the thinnest of disguises! The passion was not, I imagine, carried to its conclusion, because she always claimed that her sex guide, Married Love, was written while she was still a virgin.

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