b.9 October 1888 d.15 December 1957
CIE(1942) MB BS Lond(1914) MRCP(1935) FRCP(1940)
Lionel Everard Napier was remembered by all who knew him, and even casual acquaintances, for his charm of personality that sprang from loving-kindness to his fellow-men. He was the son of the Rev. John Russell Napier, vicar of Old Windsor, and Mary Augusta (née Roe) Napier. From St. John’s School, Leatherhead, he entered St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. For a short time after qualifying he held house appointments and the post of assistant medical officer to Berkshire County Council before going with the R.A.M.C, to India, and later to Mesopotamia, as a specialist in pathology.
In 1919 he joined the staff of the School of Tropical Medicine at Calcutta, where he became first its professor of tropical medicine and then its director, before retiring after twenty-two years of distinguished service, during which he gained an international reputation for his writings on the pathogenesis and treatment of kala-azar. The result was that he was invited to go to America in 1943, where he taught tropical medicine at Columbia University, New York, before becoming its professor and also visiting lecturer to Tulane and Harvard Universities.
On his return to England in 1946 he was appointed specialist in tropical diseases to the Ministry of Pensions and consultant to Queen Mary’s Hospital, Carshalton, and in 1951 became medical editor of the Caxton Publishing Company and helped to prepare the British medical dictionary. For this most exacting task he was well qualified, for he had been editor of the Indian Medical Gazette, had just been editor of the Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and had always been a severe critic of those who debased our literature by slipshod and unstylish writings. Yet Napier was equally self-critical, and unassuming about the great importance of his life’s work.
The happiness of his long married life was shown in the love which he and his wife, Ella Ross, whom he had married in 1915, lavished on the children of their son, John, in their home on retirement in Silchester, where he told them fabulous stories about the dogs, cats, ducks and hens that surrounded them.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1957, 2, 1548-9; 1958, 1, 49; Lancet, 1957, 2, 1343-4 (p).]
(Volume V, page 303)
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