Jenner is honoured - a british scientific hero


"It now becomes too manifest to admit of controversy, that the annihilation of the Small Pox, the most dreadful scourge of the human species, must be the final result of this practice"

[Edward Jenner, 1801, on Vaccination (with cowpox)]


The technique of introducing material under the skin to produce protection against disease became universally known in Jenner's honour as vaccination, a word derived from the Latin name for the cow (vacca). His fame even led to him seeking favours from Napoleon during the war between Britain and France. He successfully negotiated the release of a number of important British prisoners-of-war. Napoleon is reported to have said: "Ah, Jenner, je ne puis rien refuser a Jenner" (Ah, Jenner, I can refuse him nothing).

[Napoleon, circa 1803]


Jenner received the freedom of many cities including London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin. Societies and universities around the world gave him honorary degrees and membership. Perhaps the most significant tributes were the minting of a special medal by Napoleon in 1804, the gift of a ring by the Empress of Russia, plus a string belt of Wampum beads and a certificate of gratitude from the North American Indian Chiefs. Statues to Jenner's honour were erected as far afield as London and Tokyo. The statue in London is now in Kensington Gardens but was originally situated in Trafalgar Square.


(Pictured below: 'The Distinguished Men of Science of Great Britain Living in the Years 1807-08'

(Copyright permission Chemical Heritage Foundation) 


Distinguished Men of Science








tributes through history

"Medicine has never before produced any single improvement of such utility... You have erased from the calendar of human afflictions one of its greatest... Mankind can never forget that you have lived."

[President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) to Dr Edward Jenner, 14 May 1806]


Your discovery of preventing the dreadful havoc made among mankind by the smallpox, by introducing into the system so mild a disease as the vaccine inoculation produces, may in time eradicate the smallpox from all civilized may occur that the christening and vaccination of children may always be performed on the same day"

[Erasmus Darwin to Edward Jenner 24 February 1802]


recognition today  

"Jenner’s bravery and persistence in his smallpox research has inspired generation after generation of scientists. I know; I’m one of them"

[Professor Anthony Hollander, Arthritis Research UK Professor of Rheumatology and Tissue Engineering, School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, The University of Bristol]


The idea he came up with could be said to have saved more lives than any other in medical history.... He was, I think rightly, hailed as a hero"

[Professor Richard Dawkins, Genius of Britain – Channel 4, 2010]


"We live in a time when the words impossible and unsolvable are no longer of the scientific community’s vocabulary. Each day we move closer to trial that will not just minimize the symptoms of disease and injury but eliminate them"

[Christopher Reeve (1952 – 2004) American actor and supporter of stem cell research]


nelmes handVisitors to Dr Jenner's House


"Because of you I am here today"


"Thank you - I’m glad I was born in the 21st century. Thank you!"


"A small town doctor whose enquiring mind affected the health of the whole world. National Hero!"


"You are an inspiration to all doctors. Eradication of Polio next?"


"Very interesting. I didn’t realise how awful smallpox was. What Jenner discovered is so amazing." (Penny, age 12)


"People need to understand science/disease better instead of being swayed by media sensations, gut feelings or reflexive emotions."


"Thank you, you are a hero to millions of people thank you x"


"You are a legend!" (Ed age 8)








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