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Lane, Sir William Arbuthnot (1856-1948)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0120 GC/127
Held at: Wellcome Library
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Full title: Lane, Sir William Arbuthnot (1856-1948)
Date(s): 1880-1956
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 5 boxes
Name of creator(s): Lane | Sir | William Arbuthnot | 1856-1948 | surgeon
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

A consultant at Guy's Hospital, London, William Arbuthnot Lane was an innovative surgeon, the first to reintroduce Paré's practice of removing a portion of rib to treat empyema. He evolved the no-touch technique for surgical operations, which enabled him to treat fractures of the long bones by open operation with advantage and safety. In 1900 he introduced sterile caps, masks and gloves to operations at Guy's.

He caused controversy in using internal fixations for fractures which could be treated by conservative methods, and by his flap method of operating on cleft palate in infants, but most controversial of all were his views on 'intestinal stasis', and his advocacy of removal of the colon, which subject occupied six meetings of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1913. The text of the discussion is included in this collection (Ref B/11).

Lane was made a baronet after successfully operating on a member of the royal family in 1913. During the First World War, he was involved in the the organisation of Queen Mary's Hospital at Sidcup for the treatment of deformities of the face resulting from wounds. Due to the shortage of personnel at Guy's, he did not retire until 1920.

After his retirement, convinced that most disease is due to 'defective diet and bad habits', Lane founded the New Health Society to publicise his theories on internal stasis and his ideas about healthy diet, posture and excercise. In order to write and publish without contravening the rules of the General Medical Council, Lane had his name removed from the Medical Register in 1933. Lane died in 1948.


Scope and content/abstract:

Sir William Arbuthnot Lane papers, 1880-1956, comprising autobiographical notes, scrapbook, reprints and biographical material.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As above in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Open. The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking. Copyright in acc no 373 transferred to the Wellcome Trust.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

These papers and publications were given to the Wellcome Library in 1991 by three granddaughters of Sir William, Mrs Susan Bowker, Mrs Barbara Clarkson and Mrs Dorothy Chapple. Apart from Lane's unpublished autobiographical chapters (Ref A/1 and 2), they consist mainly of memorabilia and published material. It is thought that no other papers of Lane are extant.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry compiled by Barbara Ball from the Wellcome Library online catalogue.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
January 2009

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