Silas Burroughs arrived in London from America in 1878 and proved himself an exceptional entrepreneur, taking the pharmaceutical business by storm. He was the brains and energy behind Burroughs Wellcome & Co. With his business partner Henry Wellcome he created an internationally successful firm, the legacy of which can be found in the charity the Wellcome Trust, yet few now remember him and the impact he made in his short lifetime.
A consummate salesman, Burroughs was also an astute businessman, with new ideas for marketing, advertising and manufacturing: his writings describe sales trips around the world and the people he met. He was also a visionary employer who supported the eight-hour working day, profit-sharing, and numerous social and radical political movements, including the single tax movement, free travel, Irish Home Rule and world peace. In this first biography of Burroughs, Julia Sheppard explores his American origins, his religion and marriage, and his philanthropic work, as well as re-evaluating the dramatic deterioration of his relationship with his partner Wellcome.
List of Illustrations
Burroughs Family Tree
Foreword: Sir Jeremy Farrar
Acknowledgements and Sources
1. Father and Son
2. On the Road
3. London and S.M. Burroughs & Co.
4. Brotherly Love and Henry Wellcome
5. ‘A Little Excursion’
6. ‘A Superficial Jaunt’? India and Ceylon
7. The Antipodes
8. ‘This Lovely Opposite Sex’
9. ‘Bones of Contention’ and Brotherly Strains
10. Atlantic Crossings and Divided Lives
11. Partnership in Crisis: The High Court
12. Henry George and the Phoenix Mills Philosopher
13. Citizen of the World
14. Partnership in Peril
15. ‘Service to the Cause of People’: Philanthropy and the Livingstone Hospital
16. From London to Monte Carlo
17. Olive versus Wellcome
Appendix: Pharmacy and Change
References and Bibliography
Endorsements and Reviews
For too long, Silas Burroughs has stood in the shadows of his partner, Henry Wellcome. In this insightful and revealing book Julia Sheppard does a superb job of redressing the balance, revealing Burroughs’s childhood and education, and his increasingly difficult relationship with Wellcome. Based on extensive original research, this is a beautifully written and entertaining biography.
Stuart Anderson, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacy History, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Besides a thoroughly engaging story of the American-born entrepreneur, manufacturer and advertising innovator, Julia Sheppard has also given us an important and fascinating insight into the history of the British drug industry and the making of a global pharmaceutical market. This is biography at its very best.
John Harley Warner, Avalon Professor of the History of Medicine, Yale University
Julia Sheppard has written the definitive biography of Silas Burroughs, the dynamic young American behind one of Victorian Britain’s most successful (yet fraught) business partnerships, a major forerunner of today’s Big Pharma.
Christine Macleod, Professor Emerita of History, University of Bristol