Mystery of Jackson’s missing bust and lost music

John Hughlings Jackson was one of ‘fathers’ of modern neurology and the picture on the right is of his bust, which resides in the Institute of Neurology library in London. However, it’s actually a copy as the original went missing and its location is still something of a mystery.

The original was carved in marble in 1907 and graced the entrance to the Institute before being stolen by unknown thieves.

It was thought it was destroyed during the theft because broken marble was found in its place, but it was later spotted in the window of a North London home.

The home was owned by a neurologist who apparently bought the bust in a local antique shop for next to nothing, but when the Institute attempted to negotiate its return, the person refused all contact and its location is now a mystery.

Later, the legendary Canadian neurologist Wilder Penfield, a huge admirer of Jackson, had a bronze bust of Jackson created for the Montreal Neurological Institute which was installed in 1934.

This bust was gifted to London’s Institute of Neurology in 1996 and is the one that now resides in their library.

However, an article commemorating the presentation, made a request that if anyone knows the location of the marble bust to get in touch with the Institute to solve the mystery.

The much loved original is presumably still out there somewhere, so keep a look out for a marble version of the current bronze.

As an aside, while searching the archives for material on John Hughlings Jackson, I found this snippet from a personal tribute printed in a Oct 27, 1934 article for The Lancet:

He had no particular taste for music and art in any form, he often admitted he could not distinguish the National Anthem from ‘Rule Brittania’…

The fact he couldn’t distinguish two common tunes suggests he had amusia, the inability to recognise and understand music.

The condition can be caused by brain damage but it is also known to be inherited, which is the more likely source of Jackson’s misperception of music.

Link to article on Jackon’s bust mystery.

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