Prof. Sir William Turner

1832 - 1916

Anatomist, science administrator and Principal of the University of Edinburgh. Born in Lancaster (England), the second son of a cabinetmaker, Turner studied medicine in London before being appointed Demonstrator in Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh in 1854. He soon gained a reputation through his highly-acclaimed Atlas of Human Anatomy and Physiology published in 1857. This was followed by further books together with papers on the anatomy of the brain. He rose to become Professor of Anatomy at Edinburgh in 1867, succeeding Professor John Goodsir (1814-67), and was appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1903.

Turner was knighted in 1886. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1861, served as its Secretary (1869-91), Vice President (1891-95 and 1897 - 1903) and President (1908-13). He also served as President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1882-83), of the General Medical Council (1898 - 1904), and of the British Association (1900). He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of St. Andrews in 1902.

Turner was involved in shaping the Medical Act of 1886 and the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1889. He was also involved in the move of the University's Medical School to Teviot Place, together with its later extension, and establishing its Anatomical Museum in 1884.

He died in Edinburgh and lies buried in Dean Cemetery. His biography was written by his son, Arthur Logan Turner, also a surgeon, and includes correspondence with Charles Darwin (1809-82). His name is remembered in Turner House one of the Pollock Halls of Residence, while his portrait by Sir James Guthrie (1859 - 1930) is held by the University.

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