International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Dr Henry Vandyke Carter

    Status Physician
    Country United Kingdom


    Henry Vandyke Carter was was a British surgeon and anatomical artist best known for the illustrations he contributed to the medical textbook Gray's Anatomy.

    Carter became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1852. From 1852 he studied medicine at University College Hospital; he obtained his MD from the University of London four years later. He began working for Henry Gray in 1852, and drew the illustrations for Gray's Anatomy in 1856-1857.

    In 1858 Carter joined the Indian Medical Service as Assistant Surgeon. After six months in Central India, he was appointed professor of Anatomy and Physiology at the Grant Medical College Bombay. He also worked as assistant surgeon at the Jamshetjee Jeejeebhoy Hospital.

    Dr S S Pandya writes in "Henry Vandyke Carter (1831-1897) : Medical Artist and Scientist" Leprosy in India 1-4.43 (Jan-Oct 1971):19-23 that Carter's interest in leprosy (and indeed in several tropical diseases) was soon aroused and he systematically and painstakingly set about recording his observations of the clinical and anatomical features of the disease as he saw it under Indian conditions." (20)

    In 1863 Carter was appointed as Civil Surgeon and Gaol Superintendent at Satara (south-east of Bombay), where he continued his research into leprosy. In 1873 he went to Norway to study the treatment of the disease there. His report on this visit was published as Report on Leprosy and Leper-Asylums in Norway; With References to India London: G E Eyre and W Spottiswoode, 1874.

    In 1875, he was appointed in charge of the Goculdas Tejpal (G T) Hospital in Bombay. After a period in England, he returned to India as principal at the Grant Medical College and as first Physician at the J J Hospital. He was also president of the Medical and Physical Society and Dean of the Medical Faculty of the University of Bombay. He retired from the Indian Medical Service in 1888.

    Pandya describes a report on a meeting of the Medical and Physical Society at which Carter demonstrated what he had learned from Hansen in Norway. The report of the meeting states that "Dr Carter showed specimens of bacilli of tubercle and leprosy and having demonstrated their mode of preparation made remarks on the subject '…Hansen's discovery (is) that in leprous structures there is always to be found an algous growth. In its fresh states I once saw this organism at Bergen (1873) and soon after at Bombay, and quite recently it has been repeatedly studied on the Continent of Europe. In June last I exercised a small nodule from the arm of a leper and after immediate hardening in alcohol made sections for double staining by Ehrlich's method. All the fragments show crowds of bacilli and several large collections of granules'" (Quoted from the Transactions of the Medical and Physical Society of Bombay 1871-1889 in Pandya 22).

    In 1876, Carter wrote "should the colonization of India by Englishmen be ever attempted on a large scale, there would be a decided risk of the new population becoming tainted with leprosy … therefore strict regulations would have to be enforced.

    The Maharashtra State Archives contain much of the correspondence associated with Carter's visit to Norway and also his work in India. His request to conduct leprosy surveys lead him to express his "increased conviction that the subject of leprosy as the malady exists in India, is one both worthy of and highly becoming the attention of the rulers of this country; and it is solely under the impress of such conviction, that I venture again to invite the necessary aid in carrying on enquiry here." (August 17, 1875)

    Copies of Carter's report on his first to Norway were sent to Professor W Boeck, Christiania Norway; Dr Danielssen, Overlaege; Dr Th. Kierulf; Dr C J Gamborg; Prof H Heiberg; Dr Löberg, Overlaege for den Spedalske Sygdom, Bergen Norway; professor R Virchow, berlin; Dr Acland, Oxford; Dr A H Leith, Tunbridge Wells; Dr Chas Moorhead, Edinburgh; Dr J W moore, Dublin; Dr Tilbury Fox, Harely St; Dr Milroy; the Epidemiological Society, London; Sir Ranald Martin; Dr Sutherland; the Royal College of Physicians, and the Royal College of Surgeons.


    Report on Leprosy and Leper-Asylums in Norway; With References to India. London: G E Eyre and W Spottiswoode, 1874.

    On Leprosy and Elephantiasis London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1874.

    Reports on Leprosy, Second Series, Comprising Notices of the Disease as it Now Exists in North Italy, the Greek Archipelago, Palestine and Parts of the Bombay Presidency of India. London, 1876.

    Memorandum on the Prevention of Leprosy by Segregation of the Affected, by H.V. Carter. Bombay, 1884.

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