Lives of the fellows

Joseph Arthur (Sir) Arkwright

b.22 March 1864 d.22 November 1944
BA Cantab(1886) MA MD MRCS FRCP (1916) FRS

Joseph Arkwright was born at Thurlaston, Leicestershire, the son of Arthur William Arkwright, of Broughton Astley, Leicestershire, and went to Wellington College and Trinity College, Cambridge, for his education. He did his hospital training at St. Bartholomew’s after graduating as B.A. in 1886. Qualifying in 1889, he held house appointments at St. Bartholomew’s, the Victoria Hospital for Children, and the West London Hospital, and then, in 1893, established himself as a general practitioner at Halesowen in Worcestershire. Persistent eczema of the hands, however, obliged him to abandon his practice in 1904, and a year later he joined the Lister Institute as a voluntary worker, being appointed to the staff as an assistant bacteriologist in 1908. His early work in this field concerned the application of bacteriological knowledge to problems of public health, and in 1912 he published, with Ledingham, The Carrier Problem of Infectious Diseases. Joining the R.A.M.C. in 1915, he became pathologist at St. George’s Hospital, Malta, but returned, after two years, to study the aetiology of trench fever. He was seconded from the Lister Institute in 1920 to investigate foot-and-mouth disease on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, and again, in 1922, to investigate the transmission of typhus fever for the Egyptian Government. He retired from the Institute in 1927 but continued his researches as an honorary member of its staff. He gave the Bradshaw Lecture at the Royal College of Physicians in 1929.

Administration henceforward claimed an increasing share of his time. He was a member of the Medical Research Council from 1930 to 1933 and of the Agricultural Research Council from 1931 to 1940, and the Royal Society’s representative on the governing body of the Lister Institute from 1932' to 1944. He was knighted in 1937. Arkwright’s success was due partly to his appreciation of the significance of details. He was an inspiring yet unselfish leader, gifted with a sense of humour. He was a keen botanist and gardener. Arkwright married in 1893 Ruth, daughter of Joseph W. Wilson, civil engineer, and had three daughters. He died in King’s College Hospital.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1944; B.M.J., 1944]

(Volume IV, page 546)

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