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John Lizars


c.1787 - 1860

Surgeon. Born in Edinburgh, the son of engraver and printer Daniel Lizars (1760 - 1812) and brother of artist and engraver William Home Lizars (1788 - 1859), Lizars was educated at the High School and University in the city. He served as a naval surgeon on a ship commanded by Admiral Sir Charles Napier (1786 - 1860), and saw active service in engagements during the Peninsular War. He returned to Edinburgh in 1814 and began practicing surgery, while teaching anatomy and surgery. He went on to serve as professor of surgery at Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and senior surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, developing a number of new procedures. In 1825, he became the first in Britain to successfully remove an ovary. Around the same time he is known to have lectured the naturalist Charles Darwin.

His most notable work was A System of Anatomical Plates of the Human Body, published in five volumes between 1822 and 1826. The plates were the work of his brother and the work was highly regarded, used for many years by medical students. Lizars is also remembered The Use and Abuse of Tobacco (1856), an early work identifying the dangers of tobacco, including its carcinogenic nature.

Lizars had a long-running and bitter dispute with fellow surgeon James Syme (1799 - 1870), which led to legal action between the pair on more than one occasion and was eventually to damage Lizars's career. He died at his home in South Charlotte Street in Edinburgh's New Town and was buried in St. Cuthbert's churchyard.


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