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Biographical entry Gladstone, Reginald John (1865 - 1947)

MRCS 1 August 1892; FRCS 10 December 1896; MB CM DPH Aberdeen 1888; MD 1894; LRCP London 1892; FRS Edinburgh 1912.

9 July 1865
12 February 1947
Brockenhurst, Hampshire


Born 9 June 1865, third and youngest son of Thomas H Gladstone, DPh and his wife Matilda, daughter of Joshua Field, FRS, a pioneer of large marine steam engines and one of the founders of the Institution of Civil Engineers. His father died when he was six. He was educated at Clapham Grammar School, Aberdeen Gymnasium, and Marischal College in Aberdeen University. He took his clinical training at the Middlesex Hospital where he served as house physician and house surgeon, but since he was a victim of bilateral congenital cataract he decided to make his career as an anatomist. After periods of work at Cambridge and Vienna he served the Middlesex Hospital Medical School as junior and senior demonstrator of anatomy and lecturer in embryology, a subject of which he made himself master. He went with R A Young, MD to Vienna to study methods of teaching anatomy and surgery, and in 1906 to Vancouver for the British Medical Association. He left the Middlesex Hospital in 1913 on his appointment as Reader in anatomy and lecturer in embryology at King's College, London, posts which he held until his retirement at the age of 73 in 1938.

Gladstone was a most conscientious teacher and popular with his students in spite of his extremely poor sight. He also devoted much time to research, and was a regular reader in the College of Surgeons Library for many years. He left a fully documented series of embryologic specimens at King's College Hospital Medical School, and a large collection of his own beautiful anatomic drawings for a projected Handbook of Embryology which he never could bring himself to complete. He was a frequent contributor to the Journal of Anatomy, British Medical Journal, Annals of Surgery, British Journal of Surgery, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and theProceedings of the Zoological Society, but his only full scale publication was his great book The pineal organ which deals exhaustively with the comparative anatomy of median and lateral eyes. He also wrote the article "Brain" for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He served for many years as Recorder of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and was an assiduous member of the Zoological Society of London, regularly visiting the gardens on Sundays. He was an accomplished draughtsman and a keen amateur of music.

Gladstone lived for many years at 22 Court Lane Gardens, Dulwich, SE21, but the house was bombed in 1941 and he moved to Greenhayes, Sway Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, where he died on 12 February 1947 aged 81. He had married in 1912 his first cousin, Ida Millicent Field, who survived him with a son and a daughter.


The pineal organ, the comparative anatomy of median and lateral eyes, with special reference to the origin of the pineal body, by R J Gladstone; and a description of the human pineal organ considered from the clinical and surgical standpoints, by Cecil P G Wakeley; foreword by Sir Arthur Keith. London, Baillière, 1940. 528 pages, 324 illustrations.
A presomite human embryo. J Anat 1941, 76, 9-44.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 15 February 1947, p 6f; Brit med J 1947, 1, 393, and p 471, with appreciation by Professor Thomas Nicol; information from Mrs Gladstone].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England