Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)WL
TitleWithering Letters
Extent21 items
DescriptionLetters of William Withering to various correspondents. Subject matter relates mainly to botany and medical matters particularly concerning the plant Drosera.
ArrangementLetters WL/2-21 are individual items stored together; WL/1 is inserted in 'Life of William Hutton' (1817) rDA 690.B6. Letters WL/2-7 were formerly inserted in volumes 2-3 of 'An arrangement of British plants, according to the latest improvements of the Linnaean system: with an easy introduction to the study of botany' by William Withering (1818) rQK 306.A3.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered readers
Finding AidsA paper catalogue to file and item level is available in the Special Collections Department and as a pdf (see pdf document below), and at the National Register of Archives in London
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryWilliam Withering, botanist and physician, is credited with the introduction of digitalis into the practice of medicine. Withering was born in Wellington, Shropshire, England in 1741. He followed in the medical footsteps of his father who was an apothecary-surgeon. Withering received his degree in 1766 from the University of Edinburgh. Withering published 19 articles during his lifetime. After fighting a long battle with tuberculosis, he died on 6 October 1799, at the age of 58. Digitalis purpurea in the 18th century was a blessing for people with dropsy. At the same time, foxglove concoctions began to appear in an attempt to cure, albeit unsuccessfully, illnesses such as asthma, epilepsy, hydrocephalus, insanity and others. The 18th century brought foxglove into medical light, but it would take several hundred years before its true healing powers could be harnessed completely.

Reference: Hand Kocher, Digitalis Purpurea Cardia Glycoside ( ).
AcquisitionThis is an artificial collection; it was begun with a purchase of letters made in 1963/64. A number of additions have been made subsequently.
Related MaterialUniversity of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department also holds the Withering Collection: Papers of T.W. Peck and K.D. Wilkinson (GB0150 WP), acquired whilst writing 'William Withering of Birmingham' (Bristol, 1950).


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