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Biographical entry Muir, Sir Edward Grainger (1906 - 1973)

Kt 1970; MRCS 1927; FRCS 1931; MB, BS London 1928; MS 1932; LRCP 1927; Hon FRACS.

  • Image of Muir, Sir Edward Grainger
18 February 1906
14 October 1973
London, UK
General surgeon


Edward Grainger Muir was born on 18 February 1906 in North China where his father was a medical missionary. He was educated at Eltham College, and the Middlesex Hospital Medical School where he distinguished himself by winning the Senior Broderip Scholarship and qualifying with the Conjoint Diploma at the early age of 21, and graduating MB, BS (Lond) in 1928. After resident appointments he passed the FRCS examination before he was old enough to receive the diploma, and in 1932 he won the gold medal in the London University MS examination.

At Middlesex Hospital was influenced particularly by Lord Webb Johnson, Sir Gordon Gordon-Taylor and Sir Eric Riches, and after junior clinical appointments there he spent two years between 1930 and 1932 in the laboratories of the Royal College of Surgeons as the Bernhard Baron Research Scholar. He then returned to the Middlesex Hospital as assistant pathologist, and later surgical registrar, which prepared him for the appointments of consultant surgeon to King's College Hospital, the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, and King Edward VII Hospital for Officers.

From 1940-1945 he served in the RAMC with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was later consultant surgeon to the Army.

Muir was a general surgeon with a special interest in the surgery of the colon and rectum. He regarded the training of his house surgeons and registrars as one of his principal tasks, and he made a significant contribution to post-graduate education when he was a member of the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons and was appointed Dean of the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences.

Edward Muir's association with the College extended over the greater part of his professional life, dating from his Bernhard Baron Scholarship, then Hunterian Professorship in 1934, membership of the Court of Examiners and finally of the Council, becoming Vice-President in 1971 and President in July 1972, just over a year before he died.

Besides his College activities he held many other distinctions, having been President of the Harveian Society and of the Medical Society of London, and in the Royal Society of Medicine he was President of the Proctological Section and of the Section of Surgery. In 1954 he was appointed Surgeon to the Royal Household, in 1964 Surgeon to the Queen, and shortly before his death Sergeant Surgeon. He was knighted in 1970.

In spite of all these distinctions Muir was a modest, retiring person, a hard worker entirely dedicated to the care of his patients and the advancement of the science and art of surgery. He was devoted to his family, very fond of music, and took a special delight in driving motor cars, even in London.

In 1929 he married Estelle Russell and they had two sons; the elder, a consultant pathologist and microbiologist was tragically killed in a road accident, and the younger became the professor of cardiology at the Welsh National School of Medicine. He died in the National Hospital, Queen Square, after a subarachnoid haemorrhage on 14 October 1973.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 16 October 1973; Brit. med. J. 1973, 4, 238; Lancet 1973, 2, 979; Ann. Roy. Coll. Surg. Engl. 1973, 53, 321.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England