William Harvey (1 April 1578 – 3 June 1657) was an English physician. He was the first known to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the brain and body by the heart, though earlier writers had provided precursors of the theory Harvey’s initial education was carried out in Folkestone, where he learned Latin.
He then entered the King’s School (Canterbury). Harvey stayed at the King’s School for five years, after which he joined Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge in 1593.
Harvey graduated as a Bachelor of Arts from Caius in 1597. He then traveled through France and Germany to Italy, where he entered the University of Padua, in 1599. During Harvey’s years of study there, he developed a relationship with Fabricius and read Fabricius’ 1De Venarum Ostiolis.
Harvey graduated as a Doctor of Medicine at the age of 24 from the University of Padua on 25 April 1602. In 1628 he published in Frankfurt his completed treatise on the circulation of the blood, the De Motu Cordis. He married the daughter of Lancelot Browne, who had been physician to Elizabeth I In 1651, Harvey’s second major piece of work, ‘De Generatione Animalium’, was published.
This work concentrated on embryology and its importance is based on the fact that it contained the theory of ‘epigenesis’ – that the organism does not exist as a minute, preformed entity within the ovum but develops from it by a gradual building up of its parts.