Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer (1850-1935)

  • Sharpey-Schafer, Edward (Edward Albert), Sir, 1850-1935.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Sharpey-Schafer's correspondence is extensive. In addition to his own correspondence it includes papers of William Sharpey, saved by Sharpey-Schafer after his death, 1836-70 and n.d. There are significant numbers of letters from William Sharpey himself, Sir Michael Foster, Sir John Burdon-Sanderson, Sir William Osler, George John Romanes, Sir Victor Horsley, Sir James Paget, Lord Lister, Sir Charles Sherrington, Sir William Gowers, Thomas Henry Huxley, John Newport Langley, Sir Edwin Ray Lankester, Ernest Henry Starling, Allen Thomson, Sanger Monroe Brown, Sutherland Simpson, Francis Gano Benedict, Harvey Cushing, Albrecht Kossel, Karl Hugo Kronecker, Carl Ludwig, Charles Robert Richet, and Masaharu Kohima.

Material relating to Sharpey-Schafer's career at UCL includes correspondence on his controversy in the Neurological Society with Sir David Ferrier, 1887-88, and papers relating to the rebuilding of University College Hospital in 1895.

Material relating to Sharpey-Schafer's career at Edinburgh University includes correspondence on the forced resignation of William Cramer from the department of Physiology on grounds of German nationality, 1914, and papers on the opening of the department of Animal Genetics in 1930.

Other papers reflect various aspects of Sharpey-Schafer's scientific interests, including the history of the Physiological Society (with several letters from Archibald Vivian Hill), artificial respiration and bird migration. There are also numerous letters in response to his controversial address to the British Association in Dundee in 1912, and correspondence on the position of scientists in post-Revolutionary Russia, 1918-21.

There is a substantial correspondence on the various textbooks Sharpey-Schafer wrote or to which he contributed, 1910-34.

Sharpey-Schafer's personal papers include correspondence with his wives and children, 1876-1935, scrapbooks of press cuttings, c. 1899-1930, and a large collection of photographs, mainly portraits.



Physical description

26 boxes, 2 large boxes 5 boxes, 1 large box (part) 1 box


In eleven sections as follows:

B. British colleagues.

A. American colleagues.

C. Continental colleagues.

F. Far-Eastern colleagues.

J. Jodrell Professorship, University College London.

E. Edinburgh Chair of Physiology.

T. Textbooks.

P. Personal.

Q. Additional material.

R. Reprints.

S. Diaries and related items.

Acquisition note

The papers were received by the library at Wellcome Collection from Miss Geraldine Mary Sharpey-Schafer, Sir Edward's younger daughter and only surviving child, in several batches between 1967 and 1971 (acc.70, 323, 884).

Biographical note

Career summary:

Born 6 June 1850, at Hornsey, son of J.W. Schäfer of Highgate and Hamburg; educated University College London (medal for Physiology).

1871 first Sharpey Scholar, University College London.

1874 Assistant Professor of Physiology, University College London.

1877 published A course of practical Histology.

1878 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society; married Maud Dixey.

1878-1881 Fullerian Professor, Royal Institution.

1883 Jodrell Professor, University College London; published his first researches in cerebral localisation.

1885 published Essentials of Histology.

1894 discovery with George Oliver of the effect of extract of the suprarenal gland.

1895-1900 General Secretary, British Association for the Advancement of Science.

1896 death of Maud Schafer, his first wife.

1897 awarded the Baly Medal by the Royal College of Physicians.

1898-1902 edited Advanced textbook of Physiology, to which he also contributed.

1899 elected to the Edinburgh Chair of Physiology.

1900 married Ethel Maude Roberts.

1902 awarded the Royal Medal by the Royal Society.

1903 gave papers on artificial respiration to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

1908 founded the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology and edited it until 1933.

1909 awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the Royal Life-Saving Society (for the 'Schafer method' of artificial respiration).

1911 awarded the De Cyon Prize by the Accademia della Scienza, Bologna.

1912 President, British Association for the Advancement of Science: gave a controversial address on 'Life, its nature, origin and maintenance'; published Quain's Elements of Anatomy Vol II Pt I and Experimental Physiology.

1913 knighted; Lane Medical Lecturer, Stanford.

1915 death in action of his younger son Tom.

1916 published The endocrine organs.

c.1916 death of elder daughter Marjory.

1918 added Sharpey to his name in memory of Professor William Sharpey; death of his elder son Jack as captain of HMS Gaillardia.

1922 awarded the Neill Medal by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

1923 President, International Congress of Physiology.

1924 awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society.

1927 published History of the Physiological Society; resigned his Chair at Edinburgh: became Emeritus Professor ; Volume 23 of Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology produced in his honour with papers by his former pupils worldwide.

Died 29 March 1935, aged 85.

Related material

At Wellcome Collection:

A letter by Sharpey-Schafer is held as MS.7606/13. Transcripts of lectures on Histology by Sharpey-Schafer at UCL can be found in the notebooks of W D Halliburton, 1878-79 (WMSS.2681-2682); the minutes of the Association for the Advancement of Medicine by Research (WMS.5310) include inserted letters by Sharpey-Schafer, 1882-91; the papers of H R Silvester (WMS.4599) include material on the Schafer method of artificial respiration, 1898-1904, and the papers of Sir Walter Morley Fletcher (PP/WMF) include a file of correspondence and papers on the same subject, 1907-8; the records of the Physiological Society include Sharpey-Schafer's History of the Physiological Society during its first fifty years 1876-1926, 1927 (SA/PHY/R.1/1), and various photographs; the papers of Professor Ivan de Burgh Daly (PP/DBD) include biographical material on Sharpey-Schafer.

Material held elsewhere:

There is further correspondence of Sharpey-Schafer in the Special Collections department of Edinburgh University Library.

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.

Location of duplicates

The following photographs are held by Wellcome Images: PP/ESS/P.88 (PHO 15075), Portrait photograph of Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Shafer, c.1878, L43398 PP/ESS/P.88 (PHO 1079), Portrait photograph of Maud Dixey, 1896, l43399 PP/ESS/P.88 (PHO 15080), Portrait photo of EA Sharpey-Schafer, 1876, L31118 PP/ESS/P.88 (PHO 15082), Jessie C. Shafer and Elizabeth Shafer, 1875, L43397 PP/ESS/P.89 (PHO 15086), Jessie C. Shafer, 1875, L43396 PP/ESS/P.89 (PHO 15091), Frau Gertrud Kronecker, 1894, L43395 PP/ESS/P.90 (PHO 15095), Mrs Burdon Sanderson, wife of J. Burdon Sanderson, physiologist, c.1884, L43392 PP/ESS/P.90 (PHO 15098), Mrs Mary Anne Dacomb Scharlieb, 1845-1930, physician and public campaigner, c.1975, L43394 PP/ESS/P.90 (PHO 15103), Marjory Shafer, eldest daughter of Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Shafer, n.d, L43393 PP/ESS/P.93 (PHO 15132), Geraldine Mary Shafer, youngest daughter of Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Shafer, aged 3, c.1890, L43388 PP/ESS/P.95 (PHO 15145), Jessie C. Shafer, "married prof. Ewart" written on verso, 1875, L433390 PP/ESS/P.95 (PHO 15149), Oliver Horsley Gotch, aged 14 1/2 months, c.1890, L43389 PP/ESS/P.96 (PHO 15166), Ghetal Burdon Sanderson, wife of J. Burdon Sanderson, probably 1850s-1860s, L0045234 PP/ESS/P.97 (PHO 15167), Portrait of William Sharpey, physiologist, 1802-1880, n.d, L31117, L43391 PP/ESS/Q.4, Photo of Lady E Maude Sharpey Schafer (wife of Sir EA Sharpey Schafer), n.d. [1900s?], L31958 PP/ESS/Q.4, Photo of Marjorie Schafer (daughter of Sir EA Sharpey Schafer), n.d. [c.1900-1905], L31959 PP/ESS/Q.4, Photo of John Schafer (son of Sir EA Sharpey Schafer), n.d. [1900s?], L31960 PP/ESS/Q.4, Photo of unidentified man in officer's uniform, WWI, L31961 PP/ESS/P.111, Photo from album of Prof. Ken Klure and assistant Okinaka, L32769 PP/ESS/P.113 [old ref. PHO 15226], Photo of Little Gillions, Croxley Green, n.d. [1880s/90s], L31955 PP/ESS/P.119 [old ref. M20205], Photo of Little Gillions, Croxley Green, n.d. [1880s/90s], L31956 PP/ESS/P.120 [old ref. M20209], Photo of dining room at Little Gillions, Croxley Green, with Emma the parlour maid, n.d. [1880s/90s], L31957 PP/ESS/S.1/3, Map of Nikko, Japan and its vicinity, 1913, L0041423 The following files are held on microfilm: PP/ESS/S.1/1-3, S.2, S.3, Diaries of EA Sharpey Shafer

Ownership note

Some of the papers were formerly held by the family, some by Sharpey-Schafer's solicitors.

Permanent link


Accession number

  • 70
  • 323
  • 884