John Barclay. A series of engravings representing the bones of the human skeleton. Edinburgh, 1824.

John Barclay. A series of engravings representing the bones of the human skeleton. Edinburgh, 1824.

John Barclay (1758–1826), anatomist, teacher and fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh wrote the text for this book solely on condition that it would be sold cheaply to students. The plates were engraved by Edward Mitchell from the illustrations in M. Sue's edition of Alexander Monro's Traité d'ostéologie (Paris, 1759). Barclay graduated MD from Edinburgh University in 1796 and spent the following winter studying anatomy and surgery in London with Andrew Marshall of Holborn.

He returned to Edinburgh in 1797 and began giving his own private course of lectures on anatomy. It was a good business to be in. The Napoleonic Wars had created a demand both for surgeons and for anatomy courses to instruct them. Until 1825 Barclay gave two sets of lectures a day, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the six-month winter session, and towards the end of his life he gave a summer course in comparative anatomy. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1806. At one point the creation of a university chair in comparative anatomy was proposed, with Barclay as its first incumbent, but this was opposed by the medical faculty.

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