Lives of the fellows

Arthur Whitfield

b.13 October 1868 d.31 January 1947
MD Lond MRCS FRCP(1905)

Arthur Whitfield was born in London, the son of George Whitfield. He went from King’s College School to King’s College, London, with a junior scholarship, in 1887, and qualified four years later. A period of resident appointments, including the Sambrooke medical registrarship, at his own Hospital and of study in Berlin and Vienna followed before he obtained election as assistant physician to the West London Hospital and as dermatologist at the Royal Northern Hospital. He left the former after three years to return, in 1899, to King’s as assistant physician, with charge of the skin department — the first to hold this office. Having proved the importance of his speciality, he was, in 1906, made full physician, with the same responsibilities, and first professor of dermatology. He also held the offices of dean of the Medical School from 1904 to 1906 and chairman of the medical board from 1914 to 1918 and again from 1926 to 1928. During the 1914-1918 War he gave additional assistance to King’s as a general physician in charge of outpatients, as well as attending the Prince of Wales’ Hospital for Officers and carrying on a friend’s practice. On retiring from the active staff in 1925, he was elected emeritus professor and consulting physician. Whitfield’s outside appointments included those of professor of dermatology at the Royal Army Medical School and dermatologist to St. Dunstan’s. He was Lumleian Lecturer at the Royal College of Physicians in 1921.

Whitfield was the author of A Handbook of Skin Diseases and their Treatment (1907). His most valued research concerned fungus infections — in particular, the causative role of fungi in tinea pedis and its treatment with "Whitfield’s ointment". He was well informed in allied branches of medicine, and indeed in allied sciences, and his learning extended to knowledge in general. As a physician, he impressed on all the need for the most thorough examination of patients. Although handicapped by a painful infirmity, his energy, his alertness and his dogmatic manner of expression never flagged. His garden at Beaconsfield provided a hobby for his leisure, and he enjoyed a game of golf or tennis. He married Margaret, daughter of Charles Tuttle of Rochester, New York, and had one son and two daughters. He died at Eastbourne, where he had lived after retiring.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1947; B.M.J., 1947; Lyle, 417]

(Volume IV, page 470)

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