Crest of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows, the Royal College of Surgeons’ collection of obituaries of fellows, is a unique record of the evolution of surgery and social history from the foundation of the fellowship (FRCS) in 1843.

This new website means you can now search for an obituary and then find out what books, museum objects, portraits and other materials the RCS holds relating to that surgeon.

Getting started

You can use the main search box (in the black bar above) to search the obituaries (click the magnifying glass to search). The dropdown list next to it allows you to restrict the search to a particular type of data. If you need help, look for the question mark links (). There is also a general link at the top right of each page. If the person that you are interested in was not a fellow, but may have been a member, please go to the Archives pages for information.

About Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows

Plarr’s Lives began as a series of printed books. Victor Plarr, the College librarian from 1897 until 1929, compiled the first two volumes, published in 1930. Over the next 75 years, seven more volumes were produced, with the last print volume appearing in 2005.

The Plarr’s Lives website was set up in 2006 and includes all the obituaries which appeared in the print volumes, together with contemporary obituaries. This website is regularly updated with new obituaries added and amendments made. Over 9,000 obituaries are now online, including the eminent surgeons Joseph Lister, Caesar Hawkins, George Guthrie, Richard Quain, Sir William Erasmus Wilson, Joseph Carpue, Robert Liston, Sir Richard Owen, Sir Henry Thompson, Sir Benjamin Brodie and Eleanor Davies-Colley (the first female fellow).

The process of commissioning, writing and editing the obituaries is overseen by the honorary editor and the Lives committee, made up of senior members, former presidents and vice presidents of the College.

The current Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows editorial team:

  • Mr John Black FRCS (chairman)
  • Professor Irving Taylor FRCS (honorary editor)

How can you help?

We continue to rely on families of the deceased, friends, colleagues and other fellows to help create the obituaries.

  • If you would like to report the death of a fellow so that your colleague, friend or family member can be honoured, please email the membership department at membership@rcseng.ac.uk.
  • Would you like to write an obituary of a fellow? Please email lives@rcseng.ac.uk.
  • Have you found a factual error in an obituary? Please look at our amendments policy (PDF) for information and advice, and email lives@rcseng.ac.uk.
  • If you are a fellow and would like to update us with details of your career, please send a CV or fill in a Lives of the Fellows biographical form (DOCX format, PDF format). This will be used to compile your obituary. Please email the form or CV to lives@rcseng.ac.uk or post it to:

    Lives of the Fellows,
    Library,
    Royal College of Surgeons of England,
    35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields,
    London WC2A 3PE

Note on General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR). The information you provide on the biographical form will be held by the Library and Archives department in accordance with the GDPR which was implemented in May 2018. We will retain the information for the purposes of writing an obituary for Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows, which is a legitimate interest activity for the Royal College of Surgeons of England. This information will be stored on a compartmented secure server and will not be used or shared for any other purposes during your lifetime. While GDPR does not apply to an individual after death, the form will be retained and handled by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, in accordance with a ‘legitimate interest’ lawful basis. Should you wish to find out more about how we handle your information, or should you decide that you no longer want us to hold this information, please contact lives@rcseng.ac.uk.

Disclaimer

Please note that some of the older obituaries on the Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows website, particularly those reproduced from the first three printed volumes (originally published in 1930 and 1951), reflect the social attitudes of their time. These attitudes may sometimes now be considered inappropriate and the entries should be read in context as historical documents.

If you have any questions about the Lives of the Fellows, please email lives@rcseng.ac.uk.