Lives of the fellows

Walter Rupert Reynell

b.4 July 1885 d.21 March 1948
MA Oxon(1913) BM BCh Oxon(1913) DM Oxon(1918) MRCS LRCP(1912) MRCP(1918) FRCP(1934)

Walter Rupert Reynell was born in Adelaide. His father was Walter Reynell, wine grower, of Reynella, South Australia, and his mother was Emily, daughter of William Bakewell, solicitor, of Adelaide. He was the youngest of a family of five and his childhood was spent among the family vineyards. He was educated at Queen’s School and St. Peter’s College, Adelaide, where physics became his first interest. He soon showed an aptitude for ball games, and he rowed for South Australia. In 1906 he obtained a Rhodes scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied chemistry, and boxed and played lawn tennis for the University.

In 1910 he entered Guy’s Hospital where he was later house physician and house surgeon. On the outbreak of World War I he joined the R.A.M.C, with the rank of captain and served in France with the Australian Voluntary Hospital. He was then recalled to the Coulter Hospital in London. This was a fortunate appointment for him as Una Mary, daughter of the Rev. C. R. Shaw Stewart, was working there as a V.A.D. They were married in June 1916 and then moved to the Military Hospital at Seale Hayne. Here he had the pleasure of working again with his old teacher, Arthur Hurst, the physician whom, throughout his life, he loved and admired above all others.

At Seale Hayne remarkable results were obtained in the treatment of shell shock by relatively superficial suggestion. This formed the subject of his D.M. thesis, and determined his subsequent move into the field of psychiatry. After the war he became neurological specialist to the Ministry of Pensions and was appointed to the honorary staff of the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases in 1919, and later to that of the Royal Northern Hospital. Thereafter an increasing amount of his time was taken up by a growing psychiatric private practice.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War he became a specialist in neuropsychiatry at the Military Hospital for Head Injuries at Oxford, where he carried out original work on the value of psychometric tests in assessment and prognosis. After demobilisation he resumed practice in London until his final illness. He had three sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Peter Carew, was elected F.R.C.P, in 1962.

Rupert Reynell was by nature a retiring man who shunned the committee and the public occasion. He preferred the company of his family and a small circle of close friends to that of a wider circle of acquaintances, and was at his happiest and his best at the small dinner party rather than the big reception. He remained a formidable tennis player well into his fifties, and enjoyed skiing; each winter he led to the Bernese Oberland a large party consisting indiscriminately of family, friends, professional colleagues and patients.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1948, 1, 666; Lancet, 1948, 1, 578.]

(Volume V, page 345)

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