James Wardrop studied anatomy with Alexander Monro ‘Secundus’ and John Barclay. In 1803, whilst Wardrop was furthering his medical studies in France, Napoleon declared war on Britain and the Scottish student found himself having to evade capture. Before returning to Edinburgh, he studied in Vienna with the eminent eye surgeon, George Joseph Beer. Failing to find a professional opportunity in Edinburgh, Wardrop moved to London in 1808. His ‘Essays on the Morbid Anatomy of the Human Eye’ (1808-34), were the first publications to address ophthalmic pathology. As a surgeon, Wardrop specialised in heart disease and aneurysms. He had a divergent squint, probably in his left eye, and eventually went blind.