Lives of the fellows

Solomon Jacobson

b.23 April 1918 d.13 October 2008
MB BCh Wits(1943) MSc(1946) MRCP Edin(1948) MRCP(1948) DPM(1950) FRCP Edin(1968) MRCPsych(1971) FRCPsych(1972) FRCP(1973)

Solomon Jacobson was a consultant psychiatrist, first in Johannesburg and later in Sussex. He was born in South Africa, the son of Max Jacobson and his wife Bertha, née Stein. He was educated at Doornfontein preparatory school, Athlone High School, and then read medicine at the University of Witwatersrand, where he qualified in 1943. After the usual house appointments, he joined the South African Medical Corps in 1944, as a temporary captain, and served until 1946.

On demobilisation, he was appointed as a part-time lecturer in anatomy at Johannesburg General Hospital. He considered training in neurosurgery, encouraged by Roland Krynauw, but while still in the Army became ill and instead gained an MSc for a dissertation on the jumping shrew.

November 1946 saw him leave for postgraduate studies in the UK. He was shortly joined by his wife and son. After passing his membership exams of the Edinburgh and London Colleges, he studied under Sir Aubrey Lewis [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.284] at the Maudsley Hospital, London, and gained his DPM London.

In 1950, he returned to South Africa to pursue further studies in neurology and psychiatry at Johannesburg General and Witwatersrand University. He later became a partner in a Johannesburg practice with Alan Bird and Andrew Watt until 1961, when he came to feel that he could not live in his home country under apartheid, something both he and his wife were vehemently opposed to.

Once again he went to England, taking up the position of consultant psychiatrist at St Francis Hospital in the Haywards Heath, Brighton and Lewes group of hospitals. He subsequently became a clinical tutor in psychiatry at the University of London and visiting professor to the University of Sussex. He was a member of the medical consultative committee at Sussex and, from 1971 to 1972, held a grant from the South East Metropolitan Hospital Board for research into suicide. He retired in 1973. In 1975 he edited a book, Sexual problems (London, Elek).

He was a true polymath and, as well as literature and history, he was actively interested in classical music, art and general aspects of science. But his great interest, one might say the passion of his life, was writing poetry. He started writing when only 15, while still at school, and continued until shortly before his death. He also wrote short stories, books and plays. He initiated and was chairman of the Brighton and Hove Poetry Society, a voluntary post he held for about ten years. With great modesty, he recalled how little of what he had written had ever been published, chiefly due to a profound lack of confidence, time and a long bout of heart disease. To his immense delight his daughter and son-in-law (Kevin Odell) presented him with a book of his poems entitled Selected poems 1940-2008 on his 90th birthday, copies of which are now available in the libraries of the Edinburgh and London Colleges for all to enjoy and ponder on. Many poems reflect his life as a doctor in troubled South Africa prior to 1961.

He married Shelley, an engraver and artist, daughter of Herman and Minna Lowenstein, in 1943. They had two children, David and Barbara, who survive him.

Barbara Odell

[The following obituary appeared erroneously in Volume 8, pp.242-3.]

Solomon Jacobson was born in South Africa, the son of Maximilian Jacobson and his wife Bertha, née Stein. He was educated at Doornfontein preparatory school, Athlone High School, and the University of Witwatersrand, pursuing his clinical studies at Johannesburg General Hospital. After the usual house appointments at the hospital, he joined the South African Medical Corps in 1944, as a temporary captain, and served until 1946. On demobilization he was appointed a part-time lecturer in anatomy at the Johannesburg General Hospital and then came to Britain where he was a registrar at the Maudsley from 1948-50. In 1950 he returned to South Africa, being appointed as neurologist and psychiatrist to the Johannesburg General and the University of Witwatersrand, a post he held until 1961 when he returned once more to England. He settled down in England, being first appointed as consultant psychiatrist to the St Francis, Brighton and Lewes Group of hospitals, and subsequently clinical tutor in psychiatry in the University of London and visiting professor to the University of Sussex. He was a member of the medical consultative committee at the latter university, and from 1971-72 held a grant for research in suicide in Sussex from the South East Metropolitan Hospital Board.

Outside medicine, Solomon Jacobson enjoyed writing poetry and short stories and collecting rare books. He was chairman of the Poetry Society in Brighton. As well as literature, he was actively interested in art and music.

He married Shelley, daughter of Herman Lowenstein, an engraver, in 1943, and they had two children; a son and a daughter.

V Luniewska
Sir Gordon Wolstenholme

(Volume XII, page web)

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