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Charles Bell Edit Profile

Anatomist , artist , Neurologist , Physiologist , Surgeon

Charles Bell was a Scottish surgeon, anatomist, physiologist, neurologist, artist.


He was born at Edinburgh in November 1774, the youngest son of the Rev. William Bell, a clergyman of the Episcopal Church of Scotland; among his brothers were the anatomist, John Bell, and the jurist, G. J. Bell.


In 1798, Bell graduated from the University of Edinburgh and soon after was admitted to the Edinburgh College of Surgeons where he taught anatomy.


His first Work, entitled A System of Dissections, explaining the anatomy of the human body, the manner of displaying the parts, and their varieties in disease, was published in Edinburgh in 1798, -while he was still a pupil, and for many years was considered to be a valuable guide to the student of practical anatomy.

These drawings, which are remarkable for artistic skill and finish, were taken from dissections made by Bell for the lectures or demonstrations he gave on the nervous system as part of the course of anatomical instruction of his brother.

Bell purchased a share of the Great Windmill Street School of Anatom, where he taught students and conducted his own research until 1824. In 1813-14, he was appointed as a member of the London College of Surgeons and as a surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital.

Bell also served as a military surgeon, making elaborate recordings of neurological injuries at the Royal Hospital Haslar and famously documenting his experiences at Waterloo in 1815.

Bell was instrumental in the creation of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, and became, in 1824, the first professor of Anatomy and Surgery of the College of Surgeons in London. In that same year Bell sold his collection of over 3, 000 wax preparations to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for £3000.


  • Bell’s most famous discovery, that the facial nerve or seventh cranial nerve is a nerve of muscular action. This was quite an important discovery because surgeons would often cut this nerve as an attempted cure for facial neuralgia, but this would often render the patient with a unilateral paralysis of the facial muscles, now known as Bell’s Palsy. Charles Bell is regarded as one of the first physicians to combine the scientific study of neuroanatomy with clinical practice.

    He was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order in 1833. He was awarded the Royal Society's Gold Medal for his numerous discoveries in science.


He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London on 16 November 1826.


In 1811, Charles Bell married Marion Shaw.

William Bell

Marion Shaw

John Bell


G. J. Bell