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William Harvey Biography

Updated on April 23, 2017

William Harvey Was the First Person to Describe Blood Circulation

William Harvey, the famous English physician, was the first person to describe blood circulation in the human body. He discovered the prominent role played by the heart in blood circulation. William Harvey lead a charmed life.

William Harvey Was an Enthusiastic Student

William Harvey was born in England on April 1 1578 at Folkestone. He was the eldest child in the family. He was an enthusiastic student. He studied at the King's School for five years. Later on he joined the Caius College in Cambridge. He completed his graduation (Bachelor of Arts) in the year 1597. He joined the University of Padua in the year 1599 to study medicine.

William Harvey was born in Folkestone, England.

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William Harvey was tutored by Hieronymus Fabricius (a famous anatomist) during his stay at the University of Padua. He was respected at the university for his memory and capacity to learn. He earned his graduation (Doctor of Medicine) in 1602 and returned to England. He obtained another degree (Doctor of Medicine) from the University of Cambridge in the same year. He joined the College of Physicians in the year 1604.


William Harvey married Elizabeth Browne in the year 1604. The couple did not have any children. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in the year 1607. He served as the Physician in charge at the St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He lived in a small house in Ludgate. He served as a Luleian lecturer at the Royal College of Physicians.

William Harvey married Elizabeth Browne in the year 1604

William Harvey served as a physician to King James I and King Charles I. Before Harvey's discovery of blood circulation, people believed that the heart generated heat and that the lungs cooled the heart. They also believed that food was converted into blood by the liver. The role of the arteries was not clear.

William Harvey published his treatise on the circulation of blood in the year 1628. In his treatise, he explained as to how the heart pumped the blood and played a major role in its proper circulation throughout the body. His treatise received heavy criticism from his contemporaries. It had a negative impact on his practice. However, his treatise gained wide acceptance later. His book "Essays on the Generation of Animals" (1651) is considered the basis for modern embryology.


William Harvey died on June 3 1657 at Roehampton. He was buried in Hempstead, Essex. The WilliamHarveyHospital was constructed in Ashford after his death.

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Timeline of William Harvey's Life

Doctor of Medicine
Joined Royal College of Physicians
Elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
Appointed Physician-in-Charge at St Bartholomew's Hospital
Appointment to the office of Lumleian lecturer
Began his lectures
Appointment as 'Physician Extraordinary' to King James I
Published his treatise on the circulation of the blood, the De Motu Cordis

All we know is still infinitely less than all that remains unknown.

— William Harvey


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