Lives of the fellows

Carlos Paton Blacker

b.8 December 1895 d.21 April 1975
GM MC BA Oxon(1922) MRCS LRCP(1925) MA BM BCh(1927) DM(1931) MRCP(1927) FRCP(1936)

Carlos Paton Blacker was born in Paris. His father was Carlos Blacker, gentleman, and his mother was Caroline, daughter of General Frost of the US Army, residing in St. Louis, Missouri, a distinguished soldier in the American Civil War.

The family were of independent means, the father being a debonair man-about-town in London before his marriage and move to Paris. In Paris he was friendly with Anatole France and with Oscar Wilde, whose family he helped in their distress following Oscar Wilde’s conviction. The paternal grandmother was a Peruvian lady, and the Peruvian branch of the family has supplied statesmen and diplomats for their country, one of Dr. Blacker’s cousins being Pedro Beltran, a Prime Minister of Peru.

French was C.P. Blacker’s first language and he remained bilingual. He and his brother were sent to Eton, the family moving to Torquay during this period, then returning to Paris during the First World War, in which the younger brother was killed. As an officer in the Coldstream Guards, the experiences of that war laid an enduring mark on Blacker, who spent the last few years of his life writing a monumental account (unpublished - in manuscript) of life in his battalion. At the end of the war, in which he was decorated with the Military Cross and twice wounded, he entered Balliol College, obtained his BA with distinction and proceeded to Guy’s Hospital. At Oxford he was captain of the Oxford University Boxing Club in 1920 and 1922, and represented the University foil in 1920. After qualification be became Registrar in the Department of Psychological Medicine at Guy’s and remained in this position until 1936 when he joined the staff of the Maudsley Hospital. Immediately the Second World War broke out he rejoined the Coldstream Guards, this time as Regimental Medical Officer to the 2nd Battalion. In 1940 he rescued a severely wounded fellow officer from a minefield and was awarded the George Medal for his gallantry. He was seconded in 1944 to the Ministry of Health as Adviser on Population and Medico-Social Problems in order to produce a survey of the psychiatric facilities which would be required in the future. He became successively Consultant Psychiatrist to the Maudsley Hospital, and to the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospitals when the hospitals united in 1948. He was also a Consultant to the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society, Chairman of the Simon Population Trust and Secretary to the Eugenics Society. He was awarded the Galton Medal of that Society in 1949. He took an active part in the work of the International Planned Parenthood Association.

Blacker’s publications included: Birth Control and the State (1926), Human Values in Psychological Medicine (1933), Voluntary Sterilisation (1934), Population and Fertility (1938) and Neurosis and the Mental Health Services (1946).

Dr. Blacker was every inch the ex-Etonian, ex-Coldstream Guards officer. Tall and spare, he ran five miles every morning before breakfast until his 65th birthday. Afraid of nothing and nobody, his chief interests were of a gentle kind - bird-watching and natural history. His approach to his work was a direct one; it was the individual who must learn to discipline and to control himself in adversity.

He married Helen Maud, the daughter of Major A.J. Pilkington, in 1923, when her family was living in Florence. By her he had one son and two daughters.

AD Leigh

[Lancet, 1975, 1, 1096; Times, 25 Apr. 26 Apr 1975; Family Planning 1975, 24]

(Volume VI, page 49)

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