Thomas Willis (1621-1675)

The Hilary Term 2021 online exhibition celebrates the 400th Anniversary of the Founder of Neurology

Dr Thomas Willis, the founder of neurology, was born on 27 January 1621. He is relatively unknown today but his medical legacy in neurology and other medical areas extends to this day. His impressive accomplishments and central standing in the emergence of modern science at Oxford makes highlighting his life, work and collaborations long overdue.

The library of St John’s College holds first editions and other early editions of all of Thomas Willis’s works except for one posthumous publication. The College also holds a good dozen letters of Willis with a focus on his work as a physician. The online exhibition introduces Thomas Willis’s work and life as illustrated by these holdings, looking not only at the books and letters, but also presenting his collaborations and legacy.

The exhibition is part of wider celebrations of Thomas Willis at Oxford University, initiated by Zoltán Molnár, Professor of Developmental Neurobiology at Oxford University and Tutorial Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford. Throughout Hilary Term 2021 a series of interviews with will discuss various aspects of Thomas Willis’s life, work and times. A list of these with links updated every Monday can be found at the start of the online exhibition.

Access the online exhibition at

Update (January 2022):

More on Thomas Willis, including more video talks, is available at the website of The Royal Society, at The circle of Willis | Royal Society

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