Lives of the fellows

Geoffrey Bourne

b.1 January 1893 d.4 December 1970
MRCS LRCP(1917) MB BS Lond(1918) MRCP(1918) MD(1920) FRCP(1929)

Geoffrey Bourne was born on New Year’s Day 1893. He was educated at Highgate School and in 1912 he entered St. Bartholomew’s Hospital with a classical scholarship. After a brilliant student career in which he was awarded almost every prize open to him he qualified with the Conjoint diploma in 1917, adding the MB BS London in the following year. At St. Bartholomew’s Hospital he served as house physician to J. H. Drysdale, a redoubtable character with a flair for clinical teaching, who left an indelible impression on Bourne.

During his student days he had suffered an attack of diphtheria following which he became liable to attacks of paroxysmal tachycardia and was in consequence considered unfit for military service. In 1920, at the early age of 27, he was appointed assistant physician to the then East London Childrens’ Hospital, Shadwell, and thereafter he developed an interest in cardiology, and particularly in rheumatic heart disease. In 1922 as chief assistant in charge of the Cardiographic Department he became responsible for recording and reporting on all the electrocardiograms carried out at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

In 1926 he was awarded a Rockefeller Travelling Scholarship and worked under Erlanger in St. Louis and Paul White in Boston for a year. On his return in 1928 he was appointed to the staff of the newly opened King George V Hospital, Ilford, and two years later became an assistant physician to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He was promoted physician in 1940 and immediately after the war was given charge of the newly created Department of Cardiology. He served throughout the war in the sector hospital at Hill End, St. Albans.

Bourne was by training, and remained by inclination, a general physician, but one with great knowledge and experience of cardiology. Most of his published papers were on heart disease, but he published a small book on medical history taking, as well as a politico-philosophical essay entitled A Return to Reason, and a light-hearted volume of reminiscences.

Geoffrey Bourne was a tall elegant figure of distinguished appearance, an entertaining and witty conversationalist who carried his erudition lightly, and a gifted painter. In his younger days he had been a keen cricketer and in middle life he became a passionate fly-fisher.

He was married twice. His first wife who was an American died in 1952. In 1953 he found great happiness in his second marriage. There were no children of either marriage.

Sir Ronald Bodley Scott

[Brit.med.J., 1970, 4, 751; 1971, 1, 55, 179; Lancet, 1970, 2, 1369; 1971, 1, 47; Times, 7 Dec, 12 Dec 1970, 4 Feb 1971]

(Volume VI, page 53)

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