Lives of the fellows

Alfred Hope Gosse

b.27 August 1880 d.23 June 1956
BA Cantab(1907) MA Cantab(1910) MB BCh Cantab(1911) MD Cantab(1914) MRCS LRCP(1910) MRCP(1913) FRCP(1923)

Alfred Hope Gosse was born at Wallaroo, South Australia. His father was John Gosse, a doctor; his mother was Mary Bennet. He was educated at St. Peter’s College, Adelaide, and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he rowed for the college crew. In 1907 he took an honours degree in the natural sciences tripos and entered St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, where he won the Cheadle prize and gold medal for clinical medicine and was successively house physician, medical officer to the inoculation department, and medical registrar, before being elected as research assistant to Sir James Mackenzie at the London Hospital and assistant physician at Brompton Hospital in 1914.

When war broke out Gosse became registrar of the 3rd London General Territorial Hospital in Mesopotamia. Later he commanded a convalescent depot at Beit Naama on the Tigris, being three times mentioned in dispatches and promoted brevet major. In 1919 he became physician to out-patients at St. Mary’s, and later consultant to the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, Ventnor, and to Midhurst Sanatorium.

Gosse was one of the first cardiologists to use regular electrocardiographic and radiographic examinations in his private practice. In all he worked at St. Mary’s for nearly fifty years. He was a popular teacher, clear and dogmatic, though at times a little too certain of his own point of view to convince a critical audience. He had a great gift for organisation and this showed in his student teaching, when he seemed to make clinical medicine almost too simple and straightforward by sometimes ignoring difficulties when they did not fit in with his neat system of classification and diagnosis.

He had a direct and logical approach to problems and his character —like his teaching—was not a complex one, but clear-cut and open, with remarkable qualities of fair play, integrity and kindness. He was not quick to make decisions, but having done so he was steadfast and true to his opinion, and completely honest with himself and others. His absolute sincerity made him deeply trusted, and drew to him many friends.

He had many interests including Masonry, horse-racing and collecting antiques; in particular he was a collector of the Victorian painter Collins, and was a regular buyer at Sotheby’s sales. He was a keen Territorial and also an enthusiastic golfer, being a regular attendant at the meetings of the Medical Golfing Society of which he was president in 1946, 1947 and 1948. He was a frequent attender at Lord’s Cricket Ground and never missed an Australian Test Match if he could help it.

He was treasurer of the Medical Society of London for twenty-two years, and its president in 1942, treasurer of the Hospital Sunday Fund, president of the Harveian Society, chairman of the Medical Committee of the Brompton Hospital, and a Councillor of the College, 1940-42. He did not marry.

Richard R Trail

[Brit. Heart J., 1956, 18, 563-4;, 1956, 1, 1548 (p); Lancet, 1956, 1, 1076-7 (p); Times, 25, 28 June 1956.]

(Volume V, page 157)

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