Title page from Withering's 'An account of the foxglove', 1785.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
William Withering (1741-1799) was the first to establish the connection between dropsy and heart diseases and introduced digitalis (a plant extract from the foxglove) as a drug for cardiac disease. Now regarded as a milestone in scientific medicine, this work describes Withering's researches. Withering practised medicine at the County Infirmary, Stafford and later became chief physician in the General Hospital, Birmingham. In 1776 he published 'Botanical Arrangement of all the Vegetables Naturally Growing in Great Britain'. This title page from Withering's 'An account of the foxglove: and some of its medical uses' published in 1785, bears a dedication to James Watt (1736-1819) to whom Withering presented the book.