Francis (Tibby) Marshall (1878-1949)


Pioneering scholar of mammalian reproduction – a most ’unrespectable’ academic subject at the dawn of the 20th century. He applied an experimental and functional, rather than the conventionally descriptive, approach to the study of reproductive physiology. Major contributor to the understanding of the reproductive cycle in female mammals, discovering the sequential ‘internal secretion’ of two ovarian products, thereby laying the foundations for the later hormonal studies of the menstrual cycle. Also pioneered the study of the impact of the environment, especially climate and light, on these internal secretions and so on fertility. Author, in 1910, of the first major and comprehensive text on vertebrate reproduction: Marshall's Physiology of Reproduction, an internationally acknowledged landmark publication, which brought together obstetric, gynaecological, veterinary and zoological observations. He was, perhaps, an unlikely expert in reproduction, being a confirmed bachelor, socially shy, with quaint and endearing mannerisms, but nonetheless always kind and courteous to students and colleagues. He was nicknamed ‘Tibby’ after his enticing salutations to College cats – for purposes unrecorded!

Christ’s undergraduate (1896-1890: taking a 3rd in Part 2), Fellow (1909-1949), tutor (1912-1923), Dean (1926) and Vice Master (1939). His walking stick now accompanies the current University Professor of Reproductive Sciences on country walks!

By Professor Martin Johnson

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