Lives of the fellows

Frank Dutch Howitt

b.24 August 1896 d.15 May 1954
CVO(1929) MA Cantab(1920) BCh Cantab(1923) MD Cantab(1925) MRCP(1925) FRCP(1937)

Frank Dutch Howitt was born in Nottingham, son of Arthur Gibson Howitt, printer and lithographer and head of the family firm, J. Howitt & Son, Ltd., of Nottingham. His grandfather, John Howitt, founder of the printing firm, was at one time Mayor of Nottingham. His mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of Zaccheus Archer, lace manufacturer, also of Nottingham.

After preparatory school in Nottingham, he continued his education at Uppingham School and Trinity College, Cambridge. The advent of the First World War interrupted his university studies, which he left to join the Royal Flying Corps, and he celebrated his twenty-first birthday by taking part in the Suvla Bay Landing at Gallipoli. At the end of the War he returned to Cambridge and then entered Guy’s Hospital Medical School.

His first association with his chosen specialty of physical medicine was as chief assistant to the actinotherapy department at Guy’s Hospital. He was subsequently appointed physician-in-charge of physical medicine at the Prince of Wales’s Hospital, Tottenham, and later assistant physician to the department of physical medicine at the Royal Free Hospital.

In 1928 he was invited by Lord Dawson of Penn to become one of the team of specialists treating H.M. King George V, and for his services he was made C.V.O. In 1937 he joined the staff of the Middlesex Hospital as physician with charge of physical medicine and rheumatism—an appointment which he filled until his death in 1954. He was also senior physician to the Arthur Stanley Institute for Rheumatic Diseases, honorary consultant in physical medicine to the British Army, and a director of the Disabled Persons Employment Corporation (Remploy).

During the Second World War he served in the rank of brigadier as consultant in physical medicine, and was largely responsible for the establishment of the Army Physical Development Centres. In 1946 he became chairman of the Research Board for the Correlation of Medical Science and Physical Education. He was Master of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, 1950-51.

Frank Howitt was a dynamic personality, immensely popular with patients and colleagues. In conversation he was often provocative, sometimes blunt, but always kindly, especially to his juniors, in whom he inspired both respect and loyalty. His success as a physician was due not only to his outstanding qualities as a clinician, but also to his ability to impart immense confidence to his patients. In 1945 he married Violet Norris Leverton, daughter of Alfred Leverton, of Glapthorn, Peterborough.

Richard R Trail

[Ann. phys. Med., 1954, 2, 73-4;, 1954, 1, 1268 (p); Lancet, 1954, 1, 1085 (p); Times, 17 May, 11 June 1954.]

(Volume V, page 202)

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