Lives of the fellows

Douglas Vernon (Sir) Hubble

b.25 December 1900 d.6 November 1981
KBE(1971) CBE(1966) MRCS LRCP(1924) MB BS Lond(1926) MD(1934) MRCP(1950) FRCP(1954)

Douglas Hubble was born on Christmas Day, the son of Harry Edward Hubble and Agnes Kate, née Field. He received his medical education at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, qualifying with the conjoint diploma in 1924 and graduating from the University of London two years later. Thereafter he entered general practice at Derby where he rapidly acquired a considerable reputation. In 1932 he was elected to the consultant staff of the Derbyshire Children’s Hospital, and in 1934 he obtained his MD. He became deeply interested in paediatric endocrinology and published a number of excellent papers on the subject, which gave him a national reputation. The combination of general practice and consulting paediatrics continued until 1942 when he was elected physician to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary and the Derby City Hospital. An increasing consulting practice and the advent of the National Health Service led to his withdrawal from general practice in 1948; it was not however until 1950 that he obtained the membership of the College and four years later he became a Fellow.

Numerous universities invited him to accept their chairs of medicine or paediatrics and in 1958 he eventually chose the paediatric chair at Birmingham. In this he was supremely successful, developing the Institute of Child Health and becoming Public Orator in the University and dean of the Faculty of Medicine, 1963-1968. His services were so highly valued that he was retained for three years beyond the normal retiring age. In 1968, still young in heart and with abounding energy, he went to Addis Ababa as dean of the Faculty of Medicine in the Haile Selassie I University. On his return to England he went to live in retirement near Newbury, where he devoted himself to literary work and scholarship.

He was appointed CBE in 1966 and KBE in 1971. In the College he was councillor, examiner, Langdon Brown lecturer and Osier orator, but he also gave valuable service to many other bodies. From 1958 to 1968 he served on the British Pharmacopoeia Commission, and on the General Medical Council (1965-1969), where his great achievement was the drafting of the requirements for the preregistration year. He served on the clinical research board (1962-1966), and the tropical medicine research board (1965-1969) of the Medical Research Council, and was chairman of the council for Investigation of Fertility Control (1963 -1968). He was president of the paediatric section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1956, and served on the executive committee of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland (1957-1960).

He was the recipient of many professional honours, including the James Spence medal of the British Paediatric Association, the Dawson Williams prize of the British Medical Association, and numerous lectureships; the Burns at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (1957), the Honeyman Gillespie of the University of Edinburgh (1958), the Felton at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne (1961), the Lawson Wilkins at Johns Hopkins University (1965), the Lloyd Roberts at the University of Manchester (1966), the Tisdall of the Canadian Medical Association (1967), the Osier of the Society of Apothecaries (1968), and the Leonard Parsons of the University of Birmingham (1971).

Hubble was an enthusiastic Johnsonian, a member of the Johnson Club and in 1956 president of the Lichfield Johnson Society. Only a year before his death he contributed an excellent paper to the British Medical Journal entitled ‘O Absolom’, in which he recounted some of the eccentricities of the Gosse and Sitwell families. He was also a fine orator, but his greatest attributes were his kindness, his unselfishness, his urbanity and his capacity to live in amity with everyone with whom he came into contact, as well as to inspire their admiration and affection.

During his latter years he became very deaf, and he died, from multiple myelomatosis, at the home of his daughter in Edinburgh. In 1928 he had married Marie Arnott Bryce, who predeceased him by a few months. There were three daughters of the marriage.

AGW Whitfield

[Brit.med.J., 1982, 283, 1408, 1495, 1618; 284, 62; Times, 16 Nov 1982]

(Volume VII, page 280)

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