Charles Edwin Wheeler M.D. B.S. B.Sc. (24 August 1868 – 2 February 1947) was born in Australia, an orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy. Wheeler was junior editor and, from 1907-1922, sole editor of The Homeopathic World, and in 1918 was the President of the British Homeopathic Society and the Liga Medicorum Homeopathica Internationalis in 1936. Wheeler was a member of the influential Cooper Club which met between its formation in 1870 into the 1930s.
Wheeler was physician and Honyman-Gillespie Lecturer in Materia Medica at the London Homeopathic Hospital where he was a colleague of Edward Bach, James Compton Burnett, John Henry Clarke, Robert Thomas Cooper, John James Drysdale, Robert Ellis Dudgeon, Washington Epps, John Paterson, Percival George Quinton, Thomas Skinner, and many others.
Charles Edwin Wheeler came from an extended Bristolian homeopathic family. His father, the surgeon Henry Wheeler (1834 – 1909), became the first homeopathic physician in Adelaide, South Australia. His uncle, Edwin Wheeler (1831 – 1909) was a naturalist and homeopathic chemist in Bristol, and his cousin, William H. Wheeler (1854 – 1887), was an homeopathic physician who practiced in Reigate, Surrey.
Charles Wheeler was born in Adelaide, South Australia in August 1868. When his father decided to return the family to Britain in the early 1880s, Wheeler commenced medical education in London, where he obtained his B.Sc. in 1889 and his M.D. in 1893.
Wheeler specialized in diseases of the chest and worked for a period at the Nordrach Sanatorium in the German Black Forest region. He took up a resident position at the London Homeopathic Hospital and, while running a successful private practice, he remained affiliated with the hospital for the rest of his life.
Wheeler was the homeopath of historian A. J. P. Taylor. As a child Taylor was taken by his mother, Constance Taylor, to see a homeopath. She was worried about her frail son after losing her first born daughter Mirian to tubercular meningitis. Constance Taylor’s close friend Mary Ann (Mab) (Polly) Blackwell recommended Charles Edwin Wheeler, who successfully treated him. The two women believed Wheeler’s treatment allowed Alan to live the life of a normal child.
In June, 1895, Wheeler married the actress and lecturer Ethel Mary Drew Arundel (1868 – 1950). They lived at The Thatched Cottage, Farleigh Common, Warlingham, Surrey.
He took a very active part in the affairs of the British Homeopathic Society, was four times elected President, a position he held at the time of his death, was president of Congress the year it was held at Glasgow and President of the International League in 1926. He was rarely absent from the meetings of the Society, read many papers before it, and invariably took part in the discussions.
Wheeler was a noted linguist and public speaker. This, married to his mastery of the materia medica, led to his appointment as the Honyman-Gillespie lecturer in materia medica and therapeutics at the London Homeopathic Hospital, a role he continued for more than thirty years.
Wheeler was an “acquaintance of Edward Bach, a friendship which began in the early twenties.” Later Wheeler says, “we had rooms in the same house and saw a great deal of one another.” Wheeler found Bach to be “free from any taint of self-seeking…single minded in altruism…[and] courageous in asserting what he felt to be the truth.”
Wheeler forms an important connecting link between those nineteenth century figures like James Compton Burnett and Robert Thomas Cooper, and later figures like John Henry Clarke, Edward Bach and John Paterson.
Some, like the members of the so-called ‘Cooper Club,’ were in very intimate daily contact. The Cooper Club “were responsible for the development of many new remedies [mostly nosodes] and of various approaches within the context of Samuel Hahnemann’s medical system.”
John Weir and Charles Edwin Wheeler were also members. One suspects that Edward Bach, James Douglas Kenyon, Percival George Quinton and several others were also members, and taught lay persons, though there is no direct evidence and an air of secrecy shrouds the group.
The Bowel Nosodes were introduced by British homeopaths, Edward Bach, John Paterson and Wheeler in the 1920s. Their use is based on the variable bowel bacterial flora associated with persons of different homeopathic constitutional types…
Dr. Wheeler, who we mentioned earlier, had realised that you needed to have consecutive cases. Margery Blackie presented cases, but you might call them uncontrolled, carefully selected series of 1, 2 or 3 patients, and Dr. Wheeler had realised that one needed to have consecutive cases in order to try and minimise selection bias. He thought a hundred would suffice. Now you have to remember that, at this time, randomised controlled trials were only just starting. This is 53 years ago.
Wheeler continued to conduct research in his later years. In May 1942 he co-authored Observations on possible uses for potentised kava with J. D. Kenyon that was published in the British Homeopathic Journal.
In addition to his medical work, Wheeler’s linguistic abilities found expression in a well-received translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. As Wheeler’s obituary in the Times of London on 8 February, 1947, noted:
Though he cast his net wide in matters of medical theory and practice, this was by no means the limit of his sympathies. A socialist of the school of William Morris, in whose world “all God’s children” ought to have not only shoes but Shakespeare and Beethoven and all the beauties of life, he was one of the founders of the Stage Society, and a close associate of Granville Barker in his celebrated venture at the Court Theatre, which introduced Galsworthy and Masefield to the London public, and spread wide the knowledge of Shaw.
Wheeler died on 2 February 1947.
- Knaves Or Fools? (1908)
- The Case for Homoeopathy (1914)
- An Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Homeopathy (1919)
- Chronic Disease; A Working Hypothesis with Edward Bach (1925)
William H. Wheeler (1854 – 1887), Charles Edwin Wheeler’s cousin, was an homeopathic physician who practiced in Reigate, Surrey.