Joseph Lister, 1827-1912

Portrait

Biographical note

Joseph Lister was born at Upton, Essex, England, in 1827, and received Aw general education at the University of London. After graduation he studied medicine in London and Edinburgh, and became lecturer in surgery at the University in the latter city. Later he was professor of surgery at Glasgow, at Edinburgh, and at King’s College Hospital, London, and surgeon to Queen Victoria. He was made a baronet in 1883; retired from teaching in 1893; and was raised to the peerage in 1897, with the title of Baron Lister.

Even before the work of Pasteur on fermentation and putrefaction, Lister had been convinced of the importance of scrupulous cleanliness and the usefulness of deodorants in the operating room; and when, through Pasteur’s researches, he realised that the formation of pus was due to bacteria, he proceeded to develop his antiseptic surgical methods. The immediate success of the new treatment led to its general adoption, with results of such beneficence as to make it rank as one of the great discoveries of the age.

[The Harvard Classics, v.38]

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