Farewell to February

As February finishes, we can hope to say Goodbye to the worst of the winter weather, and winter illnesses. But if February viruses linger, our new collection of former Pharmacology Library books might provide some remedies. The collection is being catalogued at present and is the first to make use of new search features for provenance in the Library catalogue, allowing users to follow the story of individual books as they passed from owner to owner.

Two notable figures have appeared in the story of the Pharmacological Library to date, both eminent figures in their field: Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton, 1st Baronet, FRS (1844-1916) and Walter James Dilling (1886-1950).

The evidence for Brunton’s ownership takes the form of an ink name stamp:

Y88.3.324 Lauder Brunton's name stampBrunton was knighted in 1900 for his work in pharmacology, following more than three decades as a physician and teacher in Edinburgh and London. A pioneer in the field of experimental pharmacology, he became the acknowledged leader of the emerging pharmacological profession, particularly associated with the use of amyl nitrate to treat angina pectoris.  A Fellow of the Royal Society, it was said of him that,

his aim was to leave therapeutics, if possible, as a science instead of merely an art, as he found it.

(Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).


A few books with Brunton’s name stamp also have the name stamp and initials (WJD) of Walter James Dilling:

Y87.3.263 Walter J. Dilling Name StampDilling, a fellow Scot,  worked and taught at Aberdeen, Glasgow and London and, like Brunton, also spent time studying in Germany. In 1920, four years after Brunton’s death, Dilling became a lecturer in Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool, where he remained until retirement, having been appointed to the newly created Chair of Pharmacology in 1930, and nominated to the General Medical Council in 1938, becoming Chairman of its Pharmocopoeia Committee.

Unlike Brunton’s books, which were all published in his lifetime, Dilling clearly had an interest in the history of his subject, which he may have wished to foster by donating his books to the Pharmacology Library, including John Lindley’s Flora Medica (1838).

As the cataloguing progresses, more stories may emerge, for example the connection between the Pharmacology Library at Liverpool and books from the Sheffield Royal Infirmary and the Sheffield Medico-Chirugical [i.e. Surgical] Society Library:

Y88.3.326 Sheffield Medico-Chirurgical Society Library Bookplate