Lives of the fellows

John Maurice Hardman Campbell

b.3 December 1891 d.7 August 1973
OBE (Military) BM BCh Oxon(1916) DM(1921) MRCP(1921) FRCP(1929)

Maurice Campbell was the son of J.E. Campbell, FRS and Sarah Hardman. He was a scholar at Winchester and went up to New College, Oxford, where he gained a first class degree in physiology. He was elected to a senior demyship at Magdalen and entered Guy’s Hospital Medical School as a clinical student in 1914. Qualifying in 1916, he joined the Army and served as captain RAMC in Mesopotamia and North Persia. He was twice mentioned in despatches and awarded the OBE for his services with a field ambulance. On demobilization in 1919, he returned to Guy’s and became a medical registrar in 1920. It was a long tradition at Guy’s that aspirants to the appointment of Assistant Physician should be trained physiologists or pathologists. Following this excellent custom, Campbell spent three years in the Department of Physiology under Pembrey, an experience which must have proved valuable in his subsequent career. In 1926, he was appointed Assistant Physician to Guy’s Hospital, Physician in 1945, and Cardiologist to the Hospital (a new appointment) in 1948, when he relinquished his general medical duties and devoted himself exclusively to his chosen speciality, in which he was to prove so refulgent.

Campbell’s interest in cardiology was shown early in his career. In 1930, he was appointed Physician to the National Heart Hospital, having previously worked there with John Parkinson. In 1934, he was St Cyres lecturer at the Heart Hospital; and in 1946 he gave the Lumleian lecture at the Royal College of Physicians. He was awarded the Moxon medal by the College for his contributions to British cardiology. He was Superintendent of the Emergency Medical Service Hospital at Orpington — closely linked with Guy’s — during the second World war.

Campbell did much to nurture the increasing interest in cardiology as a specialized study. He was instrumental in starting the British Heart Journal in 1938 and remained Editor until 1958. He was President of the Cardiac Society from 1956 until 1960. He was the first Chairman of the British Heart Foundation. He was a Governor, both of Guy’s Hospital and the National Heart Hospital.

Maurice Campbell’s professional life falls into two parts. During the earlier and longer part of his career as a physician, although cardiology, particularly irregularities of rhythm, claimed his attention, he held general beds and taught general medicine in the less specialized atmosphere of those days. After the war, a fortunate conjugation of circumstances stimulated him, then in his mid-fifties, to begin what was almost a second career. Through the generosity of the Clothworkers’ Company, arrangements were made for the exchange of senior members of the staff between Guy’s Hospital and the Johns Hopkins Hospital. One of the first visitors to London, in 1947, was Alfred Blalock who had developed his subclavian-pulmonary anastomotic operation for the relief of Fallot’s tetrad. Campbell was able to show him a series of children with cyanotic heart disease for whom surgical relief might be sought. This fertilizing visit encouraged R.C. Brock (later Lord Brock), who had already done much pioneer anatomical and surgical work on the thorax, to continue and to develop open operations on the heart. Campbell thus recalled a luncheon conversation he and Brock had shortly after the war when they discussed the surgical relief of mitral stenosis: "Probably he, and certainly not I, did not realize how this talk would change our lives." During the next ten years, Campbell and Brock, joined by C.G. Baker, collaborated in a partnership which was to make the Hospital a renowned centre for the investigation and surgical treatment of congenital and acquired diseases of the heart. In 1956, Campbell retired from active practice, but until his death seventeen years later, a series of papers showed how much he had yet to say.

Although Campbell spoke and lectured with authority and distinction, in private conversation he was retiring and almost diffident. He had a certain old-fashioned air about him; rather carelessly dressed, no hat and, on his journeys between Guy’s and his house at Hampstead, always carrying the attache case containing the latest proofs of the British Heart Journal for correction on the Underground. He never was seen in a motor-car: perhaps he never owned one. He eschewed all pomp and circumstance. Firmly built, rubicund, with a grey military moustache, it is not entirely surprising that he was deeply involved in the higher criticism of Sherlock Holmes, looking not unlike Doctor Watson himself. He published three fascinating papers in a small book in 1935 entitled Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: A Medical Digression. He recalls Major Sholto’s death from left ventricular failure and suggests that Sir Charles Baskerville suffered a coronary infarction while attempting to escape from the terrifying hound. Indeed, it is believed that Campbell played the part of Watson when the Sherlock Holmes Society reenacted in period dress Moriarty’s attempted murder of Holmes at the Reichenbach falls in Switzerland. Campbell’s other interest was in ornithology.

His pleasures otherwise were found in the family circle. He married in 1924 Ethel Mary, daughter of Captain Chrimes, OBE, herself a Guy’s nurse. He was survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters.

WN Mann

[, 1973, 3, 412; Lancet, 1973, 2, 684; Times, 9 Aug 1973; Guy's Hospital Gazette, 1973, 87, 400, 424, 441]

(Volume VI, page 86)

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