Bust of Sir Victor Horsley
Donor: Emil Seletz
The following is from the book Emil Seletz, Sculptor.
Sir Victor Alexander Haden Horsley was born April 14, 1857, the son of John Calcott Horsley, RA, a famous artist of his day.
His uncle, Seymour Haden, was a physician and famous etcher.
"His artistic gifts came from his heredity, for he could draw well and had a deep sense of beauty and art. His hands were those of an artist and such hands also befit a surgeon".¹
Before he was 30 he had removed the spinal cord tumor from an Army officer (age
45) with a spastic paralysis of the lower extremities. The patient made a complete
Victor Horsley was more than a great surgeon and great pioneer, he was a great human being whose creed was, "The brotherhood of man and the ultimate triumph of good."³
Gilbert Horax (sic) eminent neurosurgeon, state: "It seems to me that there can be no possible dispute to the right of Sir Victor Horsley to be called The Father of Neurological Surgery."³
From the very beginning of his medical career that he began at age 21, he began important research on surgery and anatomy of the nervous system.4
"He was a great surgeon, a great physiologist, a great pathologist, a social reformer and one of the great teachers of mankind on the surgery of the Central Nervous System."5
In 1890, at the International Medical Congress in Berlin, he discussed the 44 operations he has performed on the brain.
Dr. Walter Dandy related to me on several occasions that he studied and learned much from the writings of Sir Victor Horsley.
The most lucid and yet complete brief biography of Sir Victor Horsley is the one by Edwin M. Todd in his scholarly volume of essays, Reflections Through A Murky Crystal (note - in Archive collection and available for "borrowing").
Edwin Todd, the accomplished neurosurgeon, bibliophile, literary and legal scholar, possesses many traits, not only of Sir Victor Horsley, but also of the great neurologist, novelist and poet S. Wier Mitchell.
- M. MacNalty: Great Teachers of Surgery: Sir Victor Horsley. British Journal of Surgery, 51-1946.
- Gilbert Horax: Neurosurgery, An Historical Sketch. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, 1952.
- A. Earl Walker: Sir Victor Alexander Haden Horsley 1857-1916 in The Founders of Neurology, W. Haymaker (Ed). Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, 1955.
- Edwin M. Todd: Sir Victor Horsley, Surgeon Crusader in Reflections Through A Murky Crystal, pp. 3-17.
*E-mail correspondence received on May 14, 2008:
"On your website page http://www.neurosurgery.org/cybermuseum/artgallery/seletz/room2.html you have a picture of a bust of Sir Victor, and (among other things) the following information.
'Before he was 30 he had removed the spinal cord tumor from an Army officer (age 45) with a spastic paralysis of the lower extremities. The patient made a complete recovery.2'
"I found this entry particularly interesting, because the patient was my grandfather, Captain Hubert Henry Grenfell of the Royal Navy. We have a few details of the operation, including a cutting from the Lancet, and it has been a real pleasure, not to say excitement, to find more details on the internet.
&However, you may like to put the record straight in a few small details. The operation took place on June 9th 1887, when my grandfather was 41 years old (actually 3 days short of his 42nd birthday), and Sir Victor had celebrated his 30th birthday some 8 weeks earlier. Also my grandfather was a Naval officer, not in the Army.
"The story is the more poignant for me and my immediate family, as five years after the operation my father was born, and later my two youngest aunts. Without Sir Victor's efforts it is more than likely that I would not exist.
"With best wishes,