Lives of the fellows

William John Little

b.1810 d.1 July 1894
MD Berlin(1837) LSA MRCS FRCP(1877)

William Little was born in the East End of London and educated at St. Margaret’s near Dover and at the Jesuit College of St. Omer in France. He was apprenticed to an apothecary in East London and studied at the London Hospital, qualifying in 1830. After attending lectures at Guy’s Hospital and University College, he began general practice in London. Deciding to become a physician, he proceeded in 1834 to Berlin, where three years later he graduated. While abroad, he visited Leyden, Leipzig and Dresden, and, himself a childhood victim of infantile paralysis with consequent atrophy of the extensor muscles of the left foot — talipes equino-varus, as he afterwards described it — he studied the work of Stromeyer, who had first introduced the operation of subcutaneous tenotomy of the tendo Achillis for the correction of this condition. He himself submitted to the operation with successful results and subsequently performed it in Berlin under Stromeyer’s direction.

In 1839 he settled in consulting practice in London. He founded the Orthopaedic Institution —a fterwards the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital — but resigned from its staff in 1844. Elected assistant physician to the London Hospital in 1839, he became lecturer on medicine there in 1844 and full physician in 1845; and he continued to take part in the administration of the Hospital after his resignation in 1863. Little also served in appointments at the Royal Orphan Asylum, Wanstead, the Asylum for Idiots, Reigate, and the Royal Hospital for Incurables. His outstanding written work was on the Treatment of Deformities in the Human Frame (1853). He was a good all-round physician and excelled in clinical instruction. After retiring in 1884, he lived at Walthamstow and West Mailing. He was survived by two sons in the medical profession.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1894; B.M.J., 1894]

(Volume IV, page 249)

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