Letter from John Burdon Sanderson to William Osler [Transcript]
Burdon-Sanderson explains the present trouble at Oxford over appointing his successor as Regius Professor of Medicine. He
asks Osler if he would consider taking the position if it were offered to him. He invites the Oslers to be his guests when
they are at Oxford for the upcoming British Medical Association meeting. Additional notes by Grace Revere Osler.
[Description courtesy of McGill University.]
About this transcript: Soon after Osler's death in 1919, Lady Osler asked their good friend Dr. Harvey Cushing to write
a biography. For this project, Cushing gathered a wide variety of material, including a substantial amount of Osler correspondence
and other memorabilia borrowed from Osler's family, friends, and colleagues. He employed three secretaries to transcribe
these documents, and later donated the transcripts (along with his other working materials) to the Osler Library. Because
many of the original documents were returned to the owners, the Cushing transcripts constitute the largest and most accessible
collection of Osler's correspondence.
Harvey Cushing's "Life of Sir William Osler" was published by Oxford University Press in 1925, and was awarded
a Pulitzer Prize in 1926.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (906,360 Bytes)
1904-06-08 (June 8, 1904)
Burdon Sanderson, John
Transcriber: [Cushing, Harvey]
Original Repository: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University. Osler Library Archive Collections, P417: Harvey Cushing Fonds
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Sir William: Regius Professor at Oxford, 1905-1919
Burdon-Sanderson Letters, '04
From Sir John Burdon-Sanderson to W.O.
(This is the first letter received about the Regius Professorship. Brought to Canton on June 19th, 1904, and cable sent that
night saying he would consider it). (G.R.O.)
June 8, 1904.
You are no doubt aware that I am on the point of vacating the Regius Professorship of Medicine here. The appointment of my
successor is in the hands of the Prime Minister (Mr. Balfour) who in this matter acts independently of the University. He
appears at present to be unable to decide on the proper course to be taken. My colleagues and I have placed before him our
opinion in favour of appointing our "Reader in Pathology" who is also Director of the Pathological Laboratory, he
being in our judgment a man of higher scientific position than any one to be had in the United Kingdom at present. It appears
however that certain objections have been suggested to Mr. Balfour which from a statesman's point of view have value,
however groundless they may seem to us.
This being the position of matters, it has seemed desirable to communicate to the Minister our hope that if, for the reasons
referred to, he is unable to take the course we suggested several months ago, he should as the next best course, ask some
distinguished representative of the science of Medicine, outside of this University to consent to occupy the position. I now
write to ask you whether we may venture to entertain the hope that you might be induced to accept the position if it were
offered to you.
I think I should add that my only reason for resigning my post is that declining health and strength makes me unable to do
the work efficiently. As you will see from the paper sent by this post the work is very light. The Regius Professor need not
reside more than one third of the year, so that he can, if he likes, avail himself of the proximity of London for any work
or purpose that may require his presence.
I understand that you are to be in Oxford at the Meeting of the B.M. Association. Will you and Mrs. Osler be our guests? You
would find my house conveniently situated for the business of the Meeting.
I would have written sooner but I have been ill and have only lately found myself in a position to make any arrangements.