Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Robinson, Arthur (1862 - 1948)

MRCS 14 May 1896; FRCS by election 10 April 1924; MB CM Edinburgh 1883; MD 1890; Hon LLD 1932; FRCS Edinburgh 1912; LRCP London 1896.

3 December 1948


Born 1862, the son of James Robinson, of Manchester, he was educated at Edinburgh University, where he took honours when he graduated in medicine and surgery in 1883, and won the gold medal at the MD examination 1890 for his thesis on the development of two rodents. After serving as demonstrator of anatomy to Sir William Turner at Edinburgh, and as demonstrator and lecturer under Professor A H Young at Owens College and the Victoria University, Manchester, he came to London in 1896 as the first whole-time lecturer in anatomy at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, succeeding John Bland-Sutton. He, took the English Conjoint qualification at once, and in 1900 was appointed professor of anatomy at King's College in the room of A W Hughes, and was elected a Fellow of King's. Robinson was a Hunterian professor in 1903-04.

He was appointed professor of anatomy and sub-dean of the Medical Faculty at Birmingham in 1905, but returned to Edinburgh to succeed the famous D J Cunningham in 1909 as Gate professor; he held the chair till 1931, when he was elected emeritus professor on his retirement. He had been elected a Fellow of the Edinburgh College of Surgeons in 1912 and was elected to the English Fellowship in 1924, and made Honorary Doctor of Laws at Edinburgh University in 1932. His sight was failing, and he settled at Eastbourne, Sussex; he lived near Edinburgh during the war of 1940-45, but was an invalid for the greater part of the end of his life. Robinson married in 1888 Emily, third daughter of John Baily, who survived him, but without children. He died at Eastbourne on 3 December 1948, aged 86.

Robinson was an outstandingly inspiring teacher, endowed with the faculty of visualizing and explaining the volume of structures in the round. His most important researches were made on the development of the ovarian follicle and the development of veins. His editions of the Manual and Textbook of his predecessor, Cunningham, made him known to generations of anatomy students beyond his immediate pupils.

Cunningham's Manual of practical anatomy, edited and revised, 4th edition, 1910; 5th, 1912; 6th, 1917; 7th, 1919-20; 8th, 1927.
Cunningham's Text-book of anatomy, edited and revised, 4th edition, 1913; 5th, 1922; 6th, 1931.
Surface anatomy, by Arthur Robinson and E B Jamieson, 1928.
On the position and peritoneal relations of the mammalian ovary. J Anat 1886-87, 21, 169.
On the anatomy of the Hyaena striata. Ibid 1888-89, 23, 90 and 187.
Observations on the earlier stages in the development of the lungs of rats and mice. Ibid p 224.
Nutritive importance of the yolk sac. Ibid 1891-92, 26, 308.
The formation and structure of the optic nerve and its relation to the optic stalk. Ibid 1896, 30, 319.
Report of the committee of collective investigation of the Anatomical Society, with F G Parsons. Ibid 1898-99, 33, 189-203.
Early stages of the development of the pericardium. Ibid 1903, 37, 1-17.
Lectures on the early stages in the development of mammalian ova and on the formation of the placenta in different groups of mammals, Hunterian lectures, 1903. Ibid 1904, 38, 186-204; 325-340; 485-502.
Observations on the development and morphology of the tail, with A H Young. Brit med J 1904, 2, 1384-1391.
On a specimen of the hind-gut opening into a cloacal chamber in a child, with F S Mackenzie. J Anat 1906; 40, 409.
Some malformations of the human heart, with A H Young. Med Chron, Manchester, 1907-08, 47, 96-106; Dreschfeld memorial, Manchester, 1908, p 16-26.
Later development of the inferior vena cava in man and in carnivora, with F P Reagan. J Anat 1921-22, 56, 482.
Description of a reconstruction model of a horse embryo twenty-one days old, with A Gibson. Trans Roy Soc Edin 1917, 51, 331-347.
A glance at anatomy from 1705 to 1909. Edin med J 1909, 3, 405-419.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 7 December 1948, p 7e; J Anat 1949, 83, 179, by J C Brash, MC, MD, and E B Jamieson, MD, with portrait and bibliography; Lancet, 1948, 2, 993, by J C Brash and E B Jamieson; Brit med J 1948, 2, 1084, and 1949, 1, 77, by Cranston Walker, MD, and p 918, will; Middx Hosp J 1949, 49, 76, by Sir G Gordon-Taylor, KBE, CB, and p 87, informal reminiscences by R R Lewis; information from Sir G Gordon-Taylor].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England