January 19, 1990

Sir Frederick Treves: The Extra-Ordinary Edwardian

Author Affiliations

SUNY at Stony Brook (NY)

SUNY at Stony Brook (NY)


by Stephen Trombley, 218 pp, $47.50, ISBN 0-415-03423-X, New York, NY, Routledge, 1989.

JAMA. 1990;263(3):463-464. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440030152048

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


"Sir Frederick Treves" is not exactly a household name, but his life spanned from the era when surgery was viewed as barbaric and held in low esteem by the "learned physicians" until it became quite respectable and indeed advanced more rapidly than medicine. The discoveries of anesthesia and antisepsis were the two important contributions that made these changes possible.

Treves was very fortunate in his exposure to a medical school (London Hospital Medical School) and not just to an apprentice system and also in his choice of a teaching hospital that offered the best available for the time. A dry tome this is not. Dr Treves was a remarkable man for any age, and his biography is filled with fascinating anecdotes of likely the most famous surgeon of his time.

The chapter on appendicitis should be especially interesting to surgeons and medical historians and includes details of his extensive contributions