William Anderson was a surgeon and dermatologist who became a connoisseur of Japanese art. He married the daughter of a Derby doctor in 1873.
In 1873, Anderson was appointed Professor of Anatomy at the Tokyo Naval Medical College and became medical officer to the British envoy in Japan from 1874 to 1880. It was in Tokyo that he developed his interest in and knowledge of Japanese art. In 1880, Anderson returned to London to become assistant surgeon and lecturer in anatomy at St Thomas' Hospital. He later became anatomist to the Royal Academy.
He also became closely involved with the London art world, notably the English Asiatic Society of Japan (the Japan Society) and its journal Transactions of English Asiatic Society of Japan on which he served as advisory editor.
Anderson amassed a superb collection of Japanese art, etchings, engravings and illustrated books, now in the British Museum. His publications include Kak'ke (1878); The Pictorial Arts of Japan, with a brief historical sketch of the associated arts, and some remarks upon the pictorial art of the Chinese and Koreans (1886); Japanese Wood Engraving (1895); 'On art in its relation to anatomy,' British Medical Journal, (1895).
Who's Who, London, 1898; Payne, Joseph Frank 'William Anderson,' St Thomas's Hospital Journal, vol. 30, 1901, pp. 329-335.