William John Adie
William John Adie MD Ed., FRCP (1886-1935) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 and neurologist
A neurologist is a physician who specializes in neurology, and is trained to investigate, or diagnose and treat neurological disorders.Neurology is the medical specialty related to the human nervous system. The nervous system encompasses the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. A specialist...

 known for describing the Adie syndrome
Adie syndrome
Adie syndrome, sometimes known as Holmes-Adie's syndrome or Adie's Tonic Pupil, is a neurological disorder characterized by a tonically dilated pupil. It is named after the British neurologist William John Adie...

 and narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder, or dyssomnia, characterized by excessive sleepiness and sleep attacks at inappropriate times, such as while at work. People with narcolepsy often experience disturbed nocturnal sleep and an abnormal daytime sleep pattern, which often is confused with insomnia...



William Adie was born in Geelong, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, on 31 October 1886. He was educated at Flinder's School, but had to leave school to support his family at the age of 13 when his father died in 1899. He worked as an office errand boy, and an employer noticed his ability to learn. He funded evening classes for Adie, who was able to pass the university entrance examination. A doctor in Geelong, Dr. Arthur South, inspired him to study medicine.

An uncle in Boston, Massachusetts paid £19 for a one-way ticket for Adie to travel to England to study medicine, which he did at the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

 with the help of his uncle and a scholarship. He qualified M.B. Ch.B. in 1911. He became interested in neurology
Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue,...

, and worked in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 and Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 for a year on a travelling scholarship.

He fought in the First World War in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, firstly as medical officer to the Northamptonshire Regiment
Northamptonshire Regiment
The Northamptonshire Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1960. Its lineage is now continued by The Royal Anglian Regiment.-Formation:The regiment was formed as part of the reorganisation of the infantry by the Childers reforms...

, and was one of few survivors from the regiment after the retreat from Mons
Battle of Mons
The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War. It was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the Allies clashed with Germany on the French borders. At Mons, the British army attempted to hold the line of the...

 due to a bout of measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

 which kept him from the battle. He was then posted to the Leicestershire Regiment, and was mentioned in despatches for saving a number of soldiers from a gas attack in 1916 by improvising a gas mask made of clothing soaked in urine. While on leave in 1916 he married Lorraine Bonar; they had two children. He subsequently served as neurological specialist to the 7th General Hospital, where he advised on management of head injured patients.

After the war he worked as a medical registrar at Charing Cross Hospital
Charing Cross Hospital
Charing Cross Hospital is a general, acute hospital located in London, United Kingdom and established in 1818. It is located several miles to the west of the city centre in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham....

 before working at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases
National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery is a neurological hospital in London, United Kingdom and part of the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust...

, Queens Square, and the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, practising general medicine with neurology as his specialty. He became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians
Membership of the Royal College of Physicians
Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians is a postgraduate medical diploma. The examinations are run by the Federation of the Medical Royal Colleges of the United Kingdom – the Royal College of Physicians of London, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College...

 in 1919. In 1926 he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians
The Royal College of Physicians of London was founded in 1518 as the College of Physicians by royal charter of King Henry VIII in 1518 - the first medical institution in England to receive a royal charter...

, and also received the gold medal for his M.D. at Edinburgh.

In 1932 Adie was one of the founders of the Association of British Neurologists, which was formed at a meeting on 28 July at the house of Gordon Holmes
Gordon Morgan Holmes
Sir Gordon Morgan Holmes CMG CBE FRS was a British neurologist. He is best known for carrying out pioneering research into the cerebellum and the visual cortex....


Adie was known as an excellent teacher of medicine and a fine diagnostician with extraordinary powers of observation. His interests also included ornithology, tennis and skiing. At the age of 45 he developed angina, forcing him to retire in 1935. He died on 17 March 1935 from a myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

at the age of 48.


Adie and his colleague James Collier wrote the neurology chapter in Price's Textbook of the Practice of Medicine which is considered to be the first account of neurology in a general textbook.

Adie also published articles on pupillary abnormalities, "forced grasping and groping" in frontal lobe disorders, and narcolepsy.
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