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Biographical entry Harvey, William (1806 - 1876)

MRCS Sept 3rd 1830; FRCS Feb 10th 1853; LSA 1830.

5 December 1876
General surgeon


Educated at Guy's Hospital; after a few years in general practice he restricted his attention to aural disease, being contemporary with Joseph Toynbee and James Yearsley. He was Aural Surgeon to the Royal Dispensary for Diseases of the Ear, to the Freemasons' Asylum for Female Children, and to the Great Northern Hospital.

Harvey is remembered as giving rise to the 'banting' system of reducing corpulence. William Banting (1797-1878), undertaker, of St James's Street, 5 ft 5 in in height, before sixty could not stoop to tie his shoe without pain and difficulty, and was obliged to go downstairs backwards to avoid the jar. He had been advised to take more exercise; he walked long distances, rowed for hours, which improved his appetite and added to his weight. Fifty Turkish baths and gallons of physic failed to diminish his weight of 202 lb. He was in his sixty-sixth year when he consulted Harvey for deafness. Harvey, believing that his deafness and fatness were connected, cut off farinaceous foods and prescribed a diet of flesh meat, fish, and dry toast, which reduced his weight by 48 lb. and bettered his health. Banting published a pamphlet which attained world-wide notoriety, but only in the third edition mentions Harvey by name. Harvey published his own view, On Corpulence in Relation to Disease, with some Remarks on Diet, in 1872. He practised at 2 Soho Square, and later at 3 George Street. After suffering for many months from a tumour of the thigh, he died on Dec 5th, 1876.

New and Improved Synoptical Table of the Diseases of the Human Ear (with THOMAS BUCHANAN), 1848.
Excision of the Enlarged Tonsil and its Consequences in Cases of Deafness, 1850.
Rheumatism, Gout and Neuralgia affecting the Head and Ear in connexion with Deafness, 1852. The work related to the treatment of disorders of hearing by
management of the general health.
On Corpulence in Relation to Disease, 1872.
The Ear in Health and Disease, with Practical Remarks on the Treatment of Deafness, several editions.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Proc. Roy. Med.-Chir. Soc., 1875-80, viii, 198. Lancet, 1917, I, 977].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England