Lives of the fellows

Mary Bateman

b.10 August 1926 d.23 November 2016
MB BS Lond(1950) MRCS LRCP(1950) MD(1952) MRCP(1953) FRCP(1973)

Mary Bateman was a consultant physician at the South London Hospital for Women and Children and the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital. She was born in Surbiton, the only child of George Neville Bateman (an engineer and manufacturer) and Elsie Margaret Bateman née Earlam. When at school in Chester Mary had hoped to become an architect, but she was soon aware that for a woman a career in architecture was not likely to be a successful choice; she always retained her interest and love of architecture and the visual arts. Instead she chose medicine, and was offered a place in Oxford. Her father had died of cancer when she was four years old, and the family was too poor to do anything other than accept an opening at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School, funded by scholarships. She was very happy at the Royal Free, and never regretted that she had not been an undergraduate at Oxford. She qualified in 1950 and gained an MD in 1952, one of the last to be awarded an MD by examination.

After house appointements, she was a medical registrar at Birmingham, where she published papers with Peter Harris [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web], among others. Her distinction as a physician rested on her diagnostic skills: high intelligence and an exceptionally good memory had made her a good examinee as a student, but it also made her very good at diagnosing her patients.

In 1963, she was appointed as a consultant physician at the South London Hospital for Women and Children (after 1984 at St George’s Hospital, Tooting), and in 1966 also at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

In 1959, Mary Bateman married Eric Gerald Stanley, later professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University. They had one child, Ann Katharine. It was in Mary’s nature to be happy, especially travelling with her husband and daughter all over Europe (west of the Iron Curtain), the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, where the Bateman family had estates (awarded to an ancestor after the Battle of the Boyne, 1690). Museums, galleries and also opera houses (for she was musical too) at home and in foreign parts enriched her life. Her memory meant that she forgot nothing seen or heard, and that included a vast amount of literature. Until near her final decline she was able to say in which gallery she had seen a particular painting, and she was able to summarise the plot of a novel she had read or an opera she had heard, often long before.

Towards the end of her career, in the 1980s, she noticed that her eyesight was deteriorating. Her mother had been blind from a relatively early age, and after Mary had retired (in 1991), she slowly became blind. That, together with frequent transient ischaemic attacks, meant that she spent the last dozen years of her life, her mind increasingly dysfunctional, very well looked after at St John’s Home, Oxford. A memorial service was held for her in St Giles’ Oxford, the church she loved. She was survived by her husband, her daughter, a forensic psychiatrist, and two grandchildren, James and Victoria. Her daughter sadly died in 2017.

Eric Stanley

(Volume XII, page web)

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