King's College London
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Learning from Lister

Photograph, c1890

Sepia-coloured photograph showing Lister seated in the Victoria & Albert men’s ward at King’s College Hospital with his staff, c1890Photograph of seated Lister in Victoria & Albert men’s ward at King’s College Hospital with his staff, c1890. King’s College London Archives.This photograph demonstrates some aspects of hospital practice which had become generally accepted by the end of the 19th century. Good ventilation of hospitals, a certain distance between beds and a general regard for the welfare of patients had become the received wisdom; this had not been the case in 1800. Lister had been a part of this general movement, although not all advocates of hospital cleanliness approved of antisepsis; many were bitterly opposed.

Detail from photograph showing Lister seated.Detail from photograph.Lister is dressed in this photograph more or less as he would be during an operation; he never wore an overall, mask or gloves, which were becoming increasingly common by the end of his career. These practices which we now believe to be fundamental were aspects of aseptic surgery which he never accepted.

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