Lives of the fellows

Claude Blaxland Levick

b.17 November 1896 d.31 May 1953
OBE(1943) MB Sydney(1920) ChM Sydney(1922) MRCP(1923) FRCP(1934)

Claude Blaxland Levick was born on 17th November 1896, the son of Sydney Bernard Levick, a merchant, of Sydney, New South Wales, and his wife, Lucy, née Blaxland. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School and later at Sydney University, where he was awarded a Cooper scholarship for proficiency in classics, an Aitken scholarship for proficiency at matriculation, the John West medal and the Graham prize medal for the greatest proficiency in the senior public examinations.

Shortly after graduation he studied at Manchester, and then in London, where he became resident medical officer at the Victoria Hospital for Children, Tite Street, and at St. George’s Hospital. In 1925 he was appointed physician to out-patients at the Victoria Hospital, and in 1928 assistant physician to St. George’s Hospital. He became consultant cardiologist to the Hertfordshire County Council, and was an early member of the British Cardiac Society and of the London Cardiological Club.

As, apart from cardiology, his main interest was in diseases of children, he devoted much time to the problems of rheumatism in childhood and, at the Rheumatic Clinic established by the L.C.C, at St. George’s Hospital, he became exceptionally skilled in the diagnosis of early heart disease. His knowledge of the standard electrocardiogram was remarkable and, though largely empirical, led him to a number of conclusions which were later confirmed by the introduction of chest and unipolar limb leads.

With his orderly mind, his care for detail, and his personal sympathy and courtesy, he had all the qualities of a successful consultant. He quickly became immersed in practice, and consequently published little, but he left careful notes of his electrocardiograph interpretations. Although not particularly lucid as a formal lecturer, he was a precise and popular bedside teacher, and a fastidious exponent of methodical examination, illustrating his points by characteristic gestures and mannerisms.

At the outbreak of war Levick was first in the Emergency Medical Service and later in the R.A.M.C.; in both he showed his administrative ability. In the Middle East he organised a first-class inter-Services convalescent depot, and was worthy of his mentions in dispatches and his award of the O.B.E.

As a man Levick was at times shy and retiring, but was always kind and approachable. He was particularly wise in counsel and an excellent and stimulating companion. As a young man he played lawn tennis and squash racquets regularly and was a keen ice skater. He enjoyed the theatre and ballet and more particularly classical music about which he was exceedingly knowledgeable. He devoted almost as much care to the modification of his gramophone as he did to the perfection of his stethoscope.

In the post-war years he was afflicted by ill health and by the progressive cardiovascular accidents of high blood pressure. He assessed the situation accurately and objectively, and conserved his energies with skill and remarkable self-discipline. He loved London and the country, and found great satisfaction in creating a garden at his cottage near Amersham. He died at the age of fifty-seven, leaving a widow, Stella, daughter of George William Kent, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, whom he married in April 1934.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1953, 1, 1336; Lancet, 1953, 1, 1207; Times, 4 June 1953.]

(Volume V, page 244)

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