Women's History

Smith, W[illiam] Tyler | A Manual of Obstetrics

  • First edition of one of the key Victorian obstetrics manuals. Uncommon in commerce.

    Physician William Tyler Smith (1815-1873) earned his MD in 1848 and for several years worked mainly as a writer and educator, serving on the editorial staff of The Lancet and helping found the Medical Directory in 1845. Beginning in 1851 he worked as an obstetrician and lecturer at St. Mary’s Hospital, and was examiner of obstetrics at the University of London for the typical term of five years. Smith was one of the founders of the Obstetrical Society, and was elected its second president in 1860. “The subsequent success of the society was largely due to his contributions in memoirs and in debate and to his capacity for work” (ODNB).

    “Urged by his close friend Marshall Hall, Smith studied the applications of the reflex function to obstetrics, with the result that the practice of obstetrics became, for the first time, guided by physiological principle. The results of his researches were published in The Lancet in the form of weekly lectures. The earliest series was collected and issued separately as Parturition, and the Principles and Practice of Obstetrics (1849), with a dedication to Hall. Some further lectures similarly contributed to The Lancet formed the basis of his Manual of Obstetrics (1858). Both books are remarkable considering they were written when Smith had little practical experience. The Manual of Obstetrics immediately became, and long remained, the favourite textbook in Britain, despite being defective in certain practical aspects, especially regarding operative procedures” (ODNB).

  • ...Theoretical and Practical. Illustrated with 185 Engravings. London: John Churchill, 1858.

    Octavo (170 x 103 mmm). Late 20th century quarter dark brown calf, brown cloth sides, new dark brown calf labels, new endpapers. Steel engravings throughout the text. Half page of related manuscript notes in pencil to the verso of the rear free endpaper, occasional pencil notations in the text. Text well-thumbed with some toning of the edges of the leaves, particularly at the rear. Very good condition.