1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Flower, Sir William Henry

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FLOWER, SIR WILLIAM HENRY (1831–1899), English biologist, was born at Stratford-on-Avon on the 30th of November 1831. Choosing medicine as his profession, he began his studies at University College, London, where he showed special aptitude for physiology and comparative anatomy and took his M.B. degree in 1851. He then joined the Army Medical Service, and went out to the Crimea as assistant-surgeon, receiving the medal with four clasps. On his return to England he became a member of the surgical staff of the Middlesex hospital, London, and in 1861 succeeded J.T. Quekett as curator of the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. In 1870 he also became Hunterian professor, and in 1884, on the death of Sir Richard Owen, was appointed to the directorship of the Natural History Museum at South Kensington. He died in London on the 1st of July 1899. He made valuable contributions to structural anthropology, publishing, for example, complete and accurate measurements of no less than 1300 human skulls, and as a comparative anatomist he ranked high, devoting himself especially to the study of the mammalia. He was also a leading authority on the arrangement of museums. The greater part of his life was spent in their administration, and in consequence he held very decided views as to the principles upon which their specimens should be set out. He insisted on the importance of distinguishing between collections intended for the use of specialists and those designed for the instruction of the general public, pointing out that it was as futile to present to the former a number of merely typical forms as to provide the latter with a long series of specimens differing only in the most minute details. His ideas, which were largely and successfully applied to the museums of which he had charge, gained wide approval, and their influence entitles him to be looked upon as a reformer who did much to improve the methods of museum arrangement and management. In addition to numerous original papers, he was the author of An Introduction to the Osteology of the Mammalia (1870); Fashion in Deformity (1881); The Horse: a Study in Natural History (1890); Introduction to the Study of Mammals, Living and Extinct (1891); Essays on Museums and other Subjects (1898). He also wrote many articles for the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.