Lives of the fellows

Gweneth Whitteridge

b.20 October 1910 d.3 September 1993
BA Oxon(1933) MA DPhil(1935) FSA(1954) Hon FRCP(1974)

Gweneth Whitteridge was the daughter of Samuel Hutchings, a corn merchant in the City of London. After 12 years at the City of London School for Girls, in 1929 she went up to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, to read modern languages, specializing in mediaeval French. She then went to Paris for a year, to study palaeography at the Sorbonne. She returned to England, obtained her BA at Oxford, and finally completed her DPhil with an edition of an Anglo-Norman text. During the second world war she was a lecturer in French at the University College of Wales, Bangor, and also at Oxford - where she was much in demand as a lecturer in Old French philology, literature and palaeography. Her first and longest post was as archivist to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, where she did a great deal of work on the Cartulary and wrote a short history of the Hospital.

In 1953 the College obtained from the British Museum a copy of one of the unpublished works of William Harvey, De motu locali animalium, with a view to editing it for the tercentenary of his death, 1957. Geoffrey Keynes, later Sir Geoffrey [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.319], a member of the library committee at the College, thought Gweneth Whitteridge might be willing to undertake its transcription and translation, a difficult and painstaking task; she finally took it on as a challenge. It was not published until 1959 and she then carried on to complete the other Harvey MSS in the British Museum in 1964: the Prelectiones anatomia universalis and De musculis under the title Anatomical lectures. During this time she worked through the whole of Hans Sloane’s papers [Munk's Roll, Vol.I, p.460] at the British Museum to see if there were any other unpublished works of William Harvey. By that time she was the only person able to read Harvey’s writing and she was somewhat annoyed that C D O’Malley and others had made an annotated translation of Lectures on the whole of anatomy, based on the transcript of 1886 which contained a number of inaccuracies. Subsequently, her study entitled William Harvey and the circulation of the blood showed how Harvey’s thought had developed.

She was recognized as a leading historical authority on Harvey. She gave many lectures, including the Fitzpatrick lecture at the College in 1976. She also provided the script, with a good deal of zest and enthusiasm, for the successful remaking of the Harvey film. She was elected to the Academie Internationale de l’Histoire des Sciences and was made an honorary Fellow of the College. Taking account of earlier versions, she made fresh translations of the De motu cordis and of De generatione animalium. Sadly, she did not live to see the publication of her final contribution to this body of scholarship, Harveys letters on the circulation and the lacteal veins, 1993.

Her husband, David Whitteridge FRS, professor of physiology at Oxford and himself a Fellow of the College, supported and inspired her in her work. They had three daughters. Her family all survived her.

L M Payne

[The Times, 21 Sept 1993;Medical History, Jan 1994,38,no 1,p.l03]

(Volume IX, page 581)

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