Leprosy and Segregation ; with Photographs.

Wright, Henry Press, 1816-1892.

London : Parker & Co., 1885.

Description : frontis. ; xii, 195 p. [8 l.] pl. ; ill.: 9 phots., tbls. ; 18.5 cm.

Photographs : 9 albumens mounted on printed cards, mostly reproducing drawings.

Subject : Skin — Leprosy ; epidemiology.

Notes :


This historic document provided the moral credence behind legislation of a compulsive, but compassionate, segregation of lepers in the British colonies. Wright's cause culminated in the Lepers Act of 1898. He was rector of St. John the Baptist Church, in Greatham when this book was published and served as Chaplain to the Forces 1st Class (CF1).

The frontispiece is a photograph of St. Jørgen's Hospital in Bergen, Norway, where Gerhard Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) carried out the research that led to his discovery of the Mycobacterium leprae (Hansen's bacillus). There is one more photograph taken from life, a male subject simply captioned, "Anaesthetic Leprosy." The remaining seven photographs all reproduce drawings, four of which are from the hand of Dr. Henry Vandyke Carter (1831-1897), who also provided much of the source material for Wright's book. The first of Dr. Carter's drawings is a sketch of a leper sitting in front of his hut and is a cropped reprint of a plate from his 1876 monograph, "Modern Indian Leprosy." The other three Carter drawings are details of plates that appeared in his 1874 monograph, "On Leprosy and Elephantiasis." These three figures are not just cropped, they are excised from their backgrounds and pasted onto the page, reminiscent of a period Victorian scrapbook. Carter was the son of an artist and was so absorbed in pursuing work as an anatomical illustrator, that he failed his medical exams. His compositions for the woodcut illustrations in Gray's Anatomy are legendary. Carter succeeded in passing the medical bar with honors in 1857 and the following year he moved to India, where he entered the Bombay Medical Service. This was followed by a number of important positions in India over the next three decades, including Grant College and Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy Hospital in Bombay. Besides his monographs on leprosy, Carter contributed many papers on infectious diseases endemic to India.

A fifth photo of a drawing is attributed to Hansen's father-in-law, Daniel Cornelius Danielssen (1815-1894). I was unsuccessful in locating the source of the first photograph that appears in the book, but the two photos that follow, including the one taken from life, are portraits of two lepers from the Almora asylum. The portraits were first published in the 1877 Cunningham and Lewis monograph titled, "Leprosy in India: A Report," published in Calcutta (plates 2 & 3). The two physicians were Special Assistants to the Sanitary Commissioner of the Government of India. The fact that only one of the illustrations of the disease chosen for the book is a photograph taken from life, was a deliberate editorial decision, it seems to me, so as to soften the horror of the subject matter and allow a shared humanity to emerge.

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