Lives of the fellows

Ernest Jones

b.1 January 1879 d.11 February 1958
MB Lond(1901) BS Lond(1902) MD Lond(1903) DPH Cantab(1905) Hon DSc Wales(1954) MRCS LRCP(1900) MRCP(1904) FRCP(1942)

Ernest Jones was born at The Woodlands, Gowerton, Glamorgan, South Wales, the eldest child and only son of Thomas Jones, a mine owner in Gowerton, near Swansea, and Mary Ann, daughter of Benjamin Lewis. A brilliant student, he went from a scholarship at Swansea Grammar School to one at Llandovery College, and thence at the age of sixteen to Cardiff University and later to University College, London. After graduating at the unusually early age of twenty-one he held several hospital appointments, including one under Sir Victor Horsley and another under Sir John Rose Bradford.

Wilfred Trotter, his most intimate friend and later his brother-in-law, then drew his attention to the works of Sigmund Freud. Jones immediately recognised the importance of this new science and, after organising the first Psycho-Analytical Congress in Salzburg in 1908 at which he met Freud, decided to make psycho-analysis his life work, and was appointed professor of psychiatry at Toronto and director of the Ontario Clinic for Nervous Disorders. He returned from Toronto to London in 1913 and set up in practice.

He founded the London Psycho-Analytical Society; later this was dissolved and reassembled under the name of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, of which he was president for twenty years; when he retired in 1944, the Society founded an annual lecture to commemorate his work. He also founded the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis and the International Psycho-Analytical Library series.

When he was driven out of London in 1940 by the bombing, Jones half-retired to a house in Sussex. Here he continued a restricted psycho-analytic and psychiatric practice, and decided to write the life-story of his master, Freud. The first volume of Sigmund Freud: life and work was published in 1953 and the third and last in 1957. It won great acclaim in Britain and in the United States, and has since been translated into French, German, Spanish and Japanese. It has been abridged into one volume and published as a paperback both in Britain and in America.

Ernest Jones had poor health; only his indomitable spirit kept him alive to the age of eighty. He had a coronary thrombosis at the age of sixty-four from which he made a good recovery. Early in 1956 he developed cancer of the bladder, but recovered sufficiently by April to deliver the Freud centenary lectures in New York. In the Freud centenary year he unveiled the Freud plaque (22 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, N.W.3.), and gave two Freud centenary lectures a month later in London, but in the summer of 1957 he had a second coronary occlusion and a severe recurrence of cancer, which had now become generalised.

He married twice. By his first wife, Morfydd Owen, he had no children; by his second, Katherine, daughter of Adolf Jokl, of Brunn, Moravia, whom he married in 1919, he had two daughters and two sons.

Richard R Trail

[, 1958, 1, 463-5 (p); Canad. med. Ass. J., 1958, 78, 552, 641-2; Guardian, 12 Feb. 1958 (p); Lancet, 1958, 1, 438-9 (p); Times, 12 Feb. 1958 (p).]

(Volume V, page 219)

<< Back to List