William Harvey was an English physician who revolutionized our understanding of the circulatory system. In this article, we explore the life and accomplishments of this illustrious figure and take a look at how his discoveries impacted medical history.

Early Life 

William Harvey was born in Folkestone, England, in 1578. His father, Thomas, owned a prosperous estate and was a successful merchant. William was the eldest of seven children and, as the son of a successful merchant, had excellent educational opportunities. He studied at the King’s School in Canterbury, a prestigious institution at the time. He then attended Caius College, Cambridge, where he pursued a medical education. After graduating, he moved to Padua, Italy to continue his studies at the University of Padua, in one of the leading academic centers at the time. Here he completed his doctorate in medicine and returned to England in 1602.

Harvey began his professional career as a physician in London. He quickly made a name for himself in the medical community, and eventually became a court physician to King James I. Harvey was the first person to systematically describe the circulation of the blood in the body and to demonstrate that the heart is a pump. He is credited for having discovered the pulmonary circulation and rejected the traditional view that blood and other bodily fluids naturally move in and out of a body as a cyclical phenomenon. In 1628, he published his most famous work, “On the Movement of the Heart and Blood in Animals”.

Discoveries of the Circulatory System 

Harvey’s publication revolutionized medicine, as it was the first comprehensive explanation of the circulatory system and how it works. He was the first to explain that the heart is a pump, and he identified the arteries and veins as the pathways in which the blood travels throughout the body. He made a number of observations and conducted detailed experiments that allowed him to formulate his theories on the circulatory system.

Harvey’s discoveries ultimately provided the foundation for the modern understanding of the circulatory system. His findings helped to explain the process of blood circulation and eventually led to the development of an effective treatment for many diseases, including obesity, hypertension, and heart disease. In addition, his work laid the groundwork for the emergence of cardiac surgery.


William Harvey is widely recognized for his contributions to the study of biology and medicine. He was an influential teacher and mentor, and many of his students went on to make their own significant contributions to medical science. His theories on the circulatory system challenged traditional medical theories, breaking new ground and ushering in a new era of medical understanding.

Harvey’s work laid the foundation for the modern scientific method, which focuses on observing and testing hypotheses. This revolutionary approach to scientific inquiry has since been used to explain a wide range of phenomena, from the structure of atoms to nuclear fusion.

William Harvey’s contributions to the understanding of the circulatory system and medical science as a whole are incalculable. His work fundamentally changed the way we think about our bodies and has provided us with an improved set of tools to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions. Harvey’s discoveries and method of inquiry will forever be remembered for having directed the path of medical science for centuries to come.