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Biographical entry James, William Warwick (1874 - 1965)

OBE; MRCS 1902; FRCS 1905; LDSRCS 1898; LRCP 1902; Hon FDS 1947; Hon MCh Birmingham 1944.

20 September 1874
14 September 1965
Curry Rivel, Somerset
Dental surgeon and Maxillofacial surgeon


William Warwick James was born on 20 September 1874 in Wellingborough School, and also had the advantage of making good use of his father's fine library. Having decided to become a dentist he began his training as an apprentice in his native town and then came to London to the Royal Dental and the Middlesex Hospital Schools from which he took the LDS in 1898, and the MRCS, LRCP in 1902. It is a good testimony to his unusual ability that he passed the FRCS Examination in 1905, and was soon elected a dental surgeon to the Royal Dental and to the Middlesex Hospitals, and also to the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street.

In spite of being pretty fully occupied in an extensive private practice he managed to find time for research, and made valuable contributions to the study of the odontomes, and to knowledge of the causation of dental caries, and the problems of pyorrhoea alveolaris. In 1922 he was awarded the John Tomes Prize of the Royal College of Surgeons.

During and after the first world war he was a member of the maxillo-facial unit at the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, and it was in recognition of his skill in the repair of gunshot wounds of the face and jaws that he was appointed OBE. His contributions to this special field were recorded in a book he wrote in collaboration with B W Fickling which was published in 1940.

After his retirement from practice he continued with research which he extended into comparative anatomy, with histological studies of the dentine of a wide range of animals, working both in London and in the University of Birmingham which recognized his outstanding merit by the award of the honorary MCh degree. When the Faculty of Dental Surgery was founded in the Royal College of Surgeons in 1947 he was elected to the Fellowship.

With the object of encouraging research by the younger members of the dental profession he made a generous donation to the School of Dental Surgery of the Royal Dental Hospital in 1960 for research in dental anatomy and an eponymous lectureship was founded in his honour in 1962.

In addition to his great capacity for work he also found time for mountaineering in his younger days and was a member of the Alpine Club. He was fond of music and enjoyed playing the violin, and took a special delight in playing chess and solving chess problems.

In 1903 he married Ada Louise Mary; daughter of L Froude of Calne, Wiltshire, and she died in 1948. They had a family of six sons and a daughter; of his sons two are medical men and one a dental surgeon. Warwick James died at his home in Curry Rivel, Somerset on 14 September 1965, a few days before his 91st birthday.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1965, 2, 763; Lancet 1965, 2, 644; Ann Roy Coll Surg Eng 1965, 37, 318].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England