Lives of the fellows

William Howship Dickinson

b.9 June 1832 d.9 January 1913
MD Cantab FRCP(1865) JP

Howship Dickinson was born in Brighton, the son of William Dickinson of Brockenhurst, and educated at Caius College, Cambridge, of which he was later elected an honorary fellow, and at St. George’s Hospital. After graduating in 1859, he became curator of the museum, and, after holding in turn all the junior posts in the Hospital, was made assistant physician in 1866 and physician in 1874. He also served on the staff of the Hospital for Sick Children, as assistant physician from 1861 to 1869 and as physician from 1869 to 1874. At the Royal College of Physicians, he held office as a Censor and Curator of the Museum and delivered the Croonian Lectures in 1883 and the Harveian Oration in 1891. He was also Examiner in medicine to the Royal College of Surgeons and to the Universities of Cambridge, London and Durham.

Dickinson was a general physician but was perhaps principally sought as a consultant on diseases of the kidney, on which he made several contributions to medical literature, and as an authority on children’s diseases. Although some of his views were not destined to stand the test of time, he was a meticulously careful observer and a man of immense industry. He visited his wards in St. George’s Hospital every day, and his example, in the elicitation of patients’ histories and methodical observation, probably had a permanent influence on the large crowds of students that invariably accompanied him. Though he became affectionately known as "Old Dick", he was not by any means an easy man, and to contemporaries who disagreed with him he could be dogmatic to the point of curtness. But to younger men of less experience and students, he was always courteous and, even when their ignorance provoked one of his famous aphorisms, its bitterness was generally softened by a twinkling eye. He worshipped St. George’s Hospital almost to the point of idolatry and received in return, during his long life, no small measure of its homage. He married in 1861 Laura, daughter of James Arthur Wilson, F.R.C.P, physician to St. George’s Hospital, by whom he had four daughters and two sons.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1913; B.M.J., 1913; Biog.Hist.of Caius College, ii, 321]

(Volume IV, page 144)

<< Back to List