Lives of the fellows

Arthur Frederick (Sir) Hurst

b.23 July 1879 d.17 August 1944
BA Oxon(1901) BM BCh(1904) MA DM FRCP(1910)

Arthur Hertz, who changed his surname to Hurst, was born at Bradford and educated at Bradford and Manchester Grammar Schools and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took first-class honours in natural science in 1901. He continued his medical studies at Guy’s Hospital, winning the Treasurer’s gold medals for both medicine and surgery and graduating as B.M, B.Ch., in 1904. A year later he won a Radcliffe travelling fellowship and began a long tour of the Munich, Paris and American schools. He was elected assistant physician to Guy’s with charge of the neurological department, as early as 1907, having already held a number of junior appointments. During the 1914-1918 War as consultant to the British forces in Salonika, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, he had to deal with a serious dysentery epidemic. He was then given command of the Seale Hayne Military Hospital at Newton Abbot, where he achieved remarkable results in treating war neuroses. In the years between the Wars he gave much time to the private New Lodge Clinic in Windsor Forest. In 1939 he retired from Guy’s, whose Reports he had edited since 1921. But he continued to practise his profession as temporary physician to the Radcliffe Infirmary and University lecturer on medicine at Oxford, and later resumed his teaching activities at Guy’s.

His early studies in physiology inspired Hurst to add to medical knowledge in a variety of fields: nervous diseases, gastro-enterology, the anaemias, and asthma. His many written works embraced such subjects as Constipation and Allied Intestinal Disorders (1909), Psychology of the Special Senses (1920), and The Constitutional Factor in Disease (1927). The Royal College of Physicians invited him to deliver the Goulstonian Lectures in 1911, the Croonian Lectures in 1920 and the Harveian Oration in 1937, and awarded him the Moxon Medal in 1939. From Oxford University he received the Osier memorial medal in 1935, and two years later he was knighted. Hurst’s achievements were all the more remarkable in that he was a lifelong sufferer from severe asthma and in later years a victim of deafness. His unflagging enthusiasm, backed by undaunted courage, not only enabled him to overcome these handicaps, but prompted him to advance theories that were unsupported by proof; these he would suddenly retract, to the consternation of his followers. Nevertheless, his example and his strong personality, bearing all the attributes of a "character", remained a stimulating force to the end of his days. His love of travel and his linguistic ability carried his influence to many foreign countries. He was a fine judge of pictures, furniture and books, an artist and a skilful clay modeller. He married Cushla, daughter of Frederick Riddiford of Hawera, New Zealand, and had one son and two daughters. He died while visiting a friend in Birmingham.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1944; B.M.J., 1944; Sir A. F. Hurst, A Twentieth century physician, 1949]

(Volume IV, page 509)

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