GOWERS, Sir William Richard

1845 - 1915

Sir William Gowers

William Richard Gowers was born at Hackney, London on 20 March 1845, second child of William Gowers (1810-1858), a shoemaker, and his wife Ann (1807-1882). In 1851, they were living at Park House, Church Street, Hackney, 40-year-old William, born at Coggeshall, Essex and 43-year-old Ann, born at Cantley, Yorkshire, with a daughter Letitia Margaret (1838-1852) and William Richard, both born at Hackney and a 9-year-old niece Charlotte, born at Doncaster. Young William's father died when William was young and by 1861, his widow, William and his niece were living at St James Street, Doncaster, Yorkshire but by 1871 had returned to Mornington Crescent, St Pancras, London. William was educated at Christchurch School, Oxford, and was apprenticed to a Dr Simpson, a medical practitioner in Coggeshall, Essex, proceeding to University College Hospital, London, qualifying M.R.C.S. in 1867. Becoming house physician and private secretary to his teacher Sir William Jenner (1815-1898), taking his M.B. degree in 1869. Neurologist, paediatrician, researcher, and an artist, drawing an illustration in 1886 as part of his documentation of Parkinson's disease which appeared in his book, 'A Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System'. The Gowers tract (tractus spinocerebellaris anterior) and Gowers sign are named after him. In 1892, Gowers was one of the founding members of the National Society for the Employment of Epileptics (now the National Society for Epilepsy), along with Sir David Ferrier (1843-1928) and John Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911). A painter and etcher of considerable ability who exhibited at the Royal Academy. He had a great interest in nature and was particularly fond of the works of John Ruskin's (1819-1900), and had an extensive interest and knowledge of mosses, wildflowers, archaeology, and architecture and personally studied the remains of some of the old Suffolk churches writing about them and their history. A forceful proponent of the use of shorthand and he himself was an excellent stenographer using shorthand for all his notes of his patients and he founded a Society of Medical Stenography. Gowers married at Leeds in 1875, Mary Baines and they had four children including civil servant and writer Sir Ernest Gowers, great-grandfather of the composer Patrick Gowers and the great-great-grandfather of mathematician Timothy Gowers. Gowers was knighted during the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. William Richard Gowers died at 34 Ladbroke Square, Kensington, London on 4 May 1915.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from 50 Queen Ann Street, Cavendish Square, London
1888 1618 Anchor Boat at Walberswick - etching

Works by This Artist