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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury and the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury People

What is the Bloomsbury Project?

The Leverhulme-funded UCL Bloomsbury Project was established to investigate 19th-century Bloomsbury’s development from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life

Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, with Dr Deborah Colville as Researcher, the Project has traced the origins, Bloomsbury locations, and reforming significance of hundreds of progressive and innovative institutions

Many of the extensive archival resources relating to these institutions have also been identified and examined by the Project, and Bloomsbury’s developing streets and squares have been mapped and described

This website is a gateway to the information gathered and edited by Project members during the Project’s lifetime, 1 October 2007–30 April 2011, with the co-operation of Bloomsbury’s institutions, societies, and local residents

Anthony Todd Thomson (1778–1849)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

Born in Edinburgh, he studied medicine at the University there, and was a member of the group of reforming lawyers and writers who were associated with the Speculative Society and the founding of the Edinburgh Review in 1802 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Several of these Scots friends, including Henry Brougham, George Birkbeck, James Loch, and Charles Bell, came together again at the opening of the University of London (later University College London) in 1828, some as founders and Council members and others as Professors

Thomson was appointed first Professor of Materia Medica at the University, and became embroiled in the rivalry between Bell and Granville Sharp Pattison which resulted in Pattison’s dismissal in the summer of 1831 (College Correspondence: Pattison case, UCL Special Collections)

Not only did Thomson support Bell, but his son Alexander, a recent medical student, also encouraged Pattison’s students to agitate for Pattison’s dismissal (College Correspondence: Pattison case, UCL Special Collections)

Thomson was Physician to North London Hospital (later University College Hospital) and Professor of Botany to the Pharmaceutical Society; he was also active in the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK)

In 1838 he became involved in a disagreement with another medical colleague, the controversial John Elliotson, who was experimenting with mesmerism as a therapy for epilepsy and hysteria at both University College and University College Hospital (Medical Faculty papers, 1 May 1838, UCL Special Collections)

In his will he bequeathed his Museum of Materia Medica to University College London, but left no funds to support it, so it was purchased by the government for Queen’s College, Cork (privately printed Memoir, 1850, De Morgan Library, Senate House Library, University of London)

For more general biographical information about Anthony Todd Thomson, see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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