[Sir William Richard Gowers, distinguished neurologist.] Long Autograph Letter Signed ('W. R Gowers') to 'Dr Spencer', giving his medical opinion of the case of 'Mrs Green Armytages child', with treatment and prognosis.

Sir William Richard Gowers (1845-1915), distinguished British neurologist who practised at the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptics, London [Spencer; Green Armytage]
Publication details: 
On letterhead of 50 Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square, W. [London]. 9 December 1881.
SKU: 21779

Gowers has been described by Macdonald Critchley as 'probably the greatest clinical neurologist of all time'. The mother of the child referred to in the letter may be Amy Julia, wife of the Clifton solicitor Alfred Green-Armytage, another of whose children was the gynaecologist Vivian Green-Armytage (1882-1961). 8pp, 12mo. On two bifoliums, attached together. In fair condition, lightly aged, with a rectangular piece cut from the bottom of the last leaf. Folded twice, and thin strip of paper from mount adhering. One hundred and thirteen lines of text. He has that morning seen 'Mrs Green Armytages child', and 'fully confirmed' Spencer's opinion. He proceeds to give his medical opinion, with reference to 'atrophic paralysis', finding that 'The fall which bruised the wrist was probably the [?] cause of the paralysis, but the cord may have before been the seat of some slight morbid process which carried the falling about, and constituted a predisposition. The cold saltwater baths commenced shortly before may have had also some influence.' He has no doubt that 'the legs will recover perfectly, but the [?] of the arm is most severe. This is all I told Mrs G. A. on the prognosis'. He continues regarding prognosis and treatment, including the statement: 'Mrs Armytage was anxious to know if she could not galvanise the child at home. I told her that she could but that it was sometimes unsatisfactory because the treatment was not carried out with due perseverance. I told her that I would leave it to you to show her how to do it, if you thought it would.' From the distinguished autograph collection of the psychiatrist Richard Alfred Hunter (1923-1981), whose collection of 7000 works relating to psychiatry is now in Cambridge University Library. Hunter and his mother Ida Macalpine had a particular interest in the illness of King George III, and their book 'George III and the Mad Business' (1969) suggested the diagnosis of porphyria popularised by Alan Bennett in his play 'The Madness of George III'.