GOWERS, Sir William Richard

1845 - 1915

Sir William Gowers

William Richard Gowers, was born at Hackney, London on 20 March 1845, son of William Gowers, a shoemaker, and his wife Ann, who lived at Park House, Church Street, Hackney, his father died when he was young but seems to have left his widow well provided for. William was educated at Christchurch School, Oxford, and an apprentice 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 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', still used today by medical professionals as a primary reference for this disease. 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 and John Hughlings Jackson. A painter and etcher of considerable ability whose paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy including in 1888 from 50 Queen Ann Street, Cavendish Square, London ‘Anchor Boat at Walberswick’. He had a great interest in nature and was particularly fond of John Ruskin's (1819-1900) works, and had an extensive interest and knowledge of mosses, wild flowers, 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 was knighted in 1897, during the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. 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. He died at 34 Ladbroke Square, Kensington, London on 4 May 1915.

Works by This Artist