Kipling and Medicine

Some of Kipling's
medical acquaintances


(by Gillian Sheehan)
back to introduction



[June 23 2004]

Dr Rothwell Adam an eminent surgeon Kipling met in Melbourne in November 1891. Kipling discussed surgical procedures with him. [Information from Rosalind Kennedy and Thomas Pinney, Kipling Down Under, Xlibris Corp, 2000, p.41-2.]

Dr Alcock attended Kipling in 1922.

Sir Herbert Barker attended Kipling in 1934.

Dr Vaughan Bateson (1873-1938) worked as a doctor in Simla for some years and later in Bradford. During the First World War he served in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and Palestine. He was an enthusiastic Mason and student of Kipling. I do not know if he and Kipling ever met, but he corresponded with Kipling over a number of years. He left a manuscript study of Kipling called Something More Of Kipling, now at Rutgers University. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.3, p.383.]

Dr Elizabeth Bielby, Professor of Midwifery, Lahore Medical School, and Lecturer to female students. She was the first woman doctor in the Punjab. Trix attended some of her lectures. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.1, p.112, note 24.]

Sir John Bland-Sutton (1855-1936), distinguished surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, 1923-6. It is not known when they first met, but they were friends for years and Bland-Sutton often dined at Bateman’s. In 1908, Kipling gave a speech at the Middlesex Hospital at the request of Bland-Sutton (recorded in A Book Of Words as “A Doctor’s Work”. Kipling drew on Bland-Sutton for the character of Sir James Belton , nicknamed “Howlieglass”, Head of St.Peggotty’s Hospital in “The Tender Achilles”(1929). Kipling wrote a “Preamble” for Bland-Sutton’s autobiography The Story of a Surgeon.

Dr Boswell A doctor on a hospital train in South Africa, during the Boer War. He had a piece of shell from Modder which he intended to make into an inkpot. Kipling wrote the following lines on the shell:

“Beyond the trenches’ outer bink
I flung my message from afar,
And now I serve to hold the ink
Whilst men write lies about the war.”

[Information from the Kipling Journal, No. 42, June 1937, p.35, “Letter Bag”, H.S. Carter, M.D.]
Mr Bowlby thought to be the eminent surgeon, Sir Anthony Bowlby. He met Kipling on a hospital train in South Africa, during the Boer war. He apparently kept a diary of his experiences in South Africa, sections of which were printed in the St.Bartholomew’s Hospital Journal. [Information as for Dr Boswell.]

Dr Bres attended Kipling in 1934.

Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930) Studied medicine at St.Bartholomew’s Hospital and practised for a time. Appointed Poet Laureate in 1913 in succession to Alfred Austin. Kipling visited him in August 1925. [Information from Everyman’s Dictionary of Literary Biography, 1965, and, Harry Ricketts, The Unforgiving Minute, A Life of Rudyard Kipling, p.348.]

Ironside Bruce attended Kipling in 1918.

Edward Henry Leigh Canney, who took his medical degree in London in 1890, had been campaigning since 1901 for measures to prevent typhoid in armies. Among his proposals were a special water supply section whose transport was to be kept ‘sacred’ and a programme of instruction to make it a ‘crime’ to use any unapproved water source. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol., p.140, note 1.]

Sir Maurice Cassidy attended Kipling in 1934.

W Christie attended Kipling in 1922.

Hanson Kelly Corning (1861-1951), an American educated in Zurich and Heidelberg, was Professor of Anatomy at the University of Basel, (1898-1929). Kipling met him in Lucerne in 1911 and discussed the Neanderthal skull with him. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.4, p.14 & 16, note 7.]

Dr James Conland (1851-1903) the Kipling family doctor when they lived in Vermont. In December 1892 he delivered Kipling’s first child, Josephine, and years later, in his autobiography, Kipling wrote: “Her birth brought me into contact with the best friend I made in new England - Dr Conland”. Conland had been a sailor and fisherman before studying medicine and he took Kipling to Boston Harbour and to Gloucester and helped with much of the detail for ‘Captains Courageous’(1896). Kipling gave him the original manuscript.[Information from David C McAveeney, Kipling in Gloucester, p. 30.

Dr Arthur William Statter Curties, of “The Ivy”, Burwash, RK’s physician. Died in 1943. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.4, p.144, note 4.]

Harvey Cushing, Born at Cleveland, Ohio, 8 April 1869; died New Haven, Connecticut, 7 October 1939. Trained at Yale College and Harvard Medical School. Founder of modern neurosurgical techniques. He advocated meticulous history-taking and examination and painstaking operative techniques. His operations lasted several hours. During the Great War he served with a Harvard Unit in the American Ambulance at Neuilly in 1915. He returned to the United States and set up one of the Base Hospital Units recruited from the professional staff of some of the university medical schools.

Back in France again in 1917 he served as an operating surgeon with the B.E.F., being detached for special duty during the battles for the Messines and Passchendale ridges. In 1918 he was transferred to the Medical Headquarters of the A.E.F. as senior consultant in neurosurgery. He wrote a biography of Sir William Osler. He always admired Kipling and exchanged letters with him on several occasions. “Duck” Ruthven, in “The Tender Achilles” may have been modelled on him. [Information from Trevor Williams, editor, Biographical Dictionary of Scientists, Collins, 1994, Harvey Cushing From A Surgeon’s Journal, 1915-1918, and the Kipling Journal, Vol XVII, No.94, July 1950, p.16 Letterbag ‘Harvey Cushing’s Story’.]

Robert H.M.Dawbarn, Professor of Surgery at New York Polyclinic Medical School and Surgeon to the City Hospital, New York. Interviewed Kipling at the Authors Club in New York (date unknown, but thought to be in 1890s), on the subject of opium in India. [Information from Harold Orel, editor, Kipling: Interviews and Recollections, Vol.1., “Opium In India - a Medical Interview with Rudyard Kipling”.]

Lord Dawson of Penn attended Kipling in 1931

Frederick Augustus Dixey (1855-1935), fellow of Wadham College, Oxford; President of the Entomological Society of London and of the Zoological Section, British Association for the Advancement of Science. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.4, p.574, note 1.]

Conan Doyle (1859-1930) Doyle studied medicine at Edinburgh University and practised at Southsea from 1882-1890. He is best remembered for having created Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. In November 1894, while on a lecture tour in America, he stayed two days with the Kiplings in Brattleboro and tried to teach Kipling how to play golf. [Information from Everyman’s Dictionary of Literary Biography , Dent, 1965, and Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.2, p .144, note 8.]

Theodore Dunham, (1862-1951) married to Josephine Balestier, (Carrie Kipling’s younger sister). He was a surgeon in New York and Professor of Surgery in the New York Post-Graduate Medical School, 1897-1922. He was one of the doctors who attended Kipling during his serious illness in New York in 1899. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.3, p.292, notes 1,3 and 4.]

Theodore Jewett Eastman (1879-1931), nephew of Sarah Orne Jewett. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.3, p.80, note 7, and Vol.2, p.165, note 1.]

Dr Eichorst a specialist in Zurich recommended by Dr Frolich, consulted by Carrie Kipling. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.3, p.409, note 1.]

Dr Arthur John Ensor, general practitioner at Tisbury, Wiltshire, where Kipling’s parents lived after returning from India. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.2, p.146, note 2.]

Dr Cecil Ensor, son of Dr A.J.Ensor, also practised at Tisbury. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol., p.7, note 2.]

Dr Evans, of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London attended Kipling in 1932. “A Welshman of great repute and keen looking.”

Alfred Frolich (1871-1953), a Viennese doctor specialising in toxicology associated with the Pharmacological Institute of Vienna. He fled Austria in 1938 and died in Cincinnati. The Kiplings had first met him at Engelberg in 1908 and they were friends for many years. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.3, p.361, note 2.]

George Gore-Gillon of Welllington, Australia. Kipling apparently met him there in 1891, and corresponded with him in 1894 when Gillon came to London for treatment of a ‘floating’ kidney. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.2, p.141.]

Sir William Richard Gowers (1845-1915) an English neurologist. He had a particular interest in neurosyphilis and his greatest book A Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System,(1886) became a work of international repute. As a medical student he taught himself shorthand and later founded the Society of Medical Phonographers. In a letter to Dr James Conland, Kipling said he had been ‘roped in’ to two public dinners, one of which was a dinner at Limmer’s Hotel, given by the society of Medical Phonographers for Sir William Gowers on the occasion of his knighthood. Kipling described him to Conland as ‘a crank on shorthand’. Gowers was particularly interested in neurosyphilis and epilepsy and may have advised Kipling on the clinical details for “Love O’Women” and “The Post that Fitted”. He was a botanist and an authority on roses, and an artist, and wrote a series of animal stories for his children. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.2, p.329, and Macdonald Critchley, Sir William Gowers - A Biographical Appreciation, Heinemann, 1949.]

Fremont Hamilton a homeopathic physician who began a practice in Brattleboro in 1893. In a letter to Dr Conland, Dec.14th 1894, Kipling explained that Hamilton came to see the baby (Josephine), ‘as a concession to the homeopathic leanings’ of the Balestiers. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.2, p.162.]

Graham Hodgson attended Kipling in 1931

J.M.Irwin, surgeon at the Station Hospital, Allahabad and physician to Kipling’s friends the Hills. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.1, p.279, note 1.]

Leander Starr Jameson (1853- 1917), met Rhodes while practising as a physician in South Africa ; leader of the abortive “Jameson Raid”, December 1895 ; Prime Minister of the Cape Colony 1904-8. The verses “If” were drawn from Jameson’s character. (Something of Myself,p.191). [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.3, p.94, note 1.]

Dr Janeway assisted Dr Dunham in looking after Kipling during his illness in New York in 1899.

Dr Jarvis attended Kipling in 1933

Dr Lang attended Kipling in 1922.

E.B.Lawrie MB (Edinburgh, 1867): Surgeon and Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at the Lahore Medical School. He attended Stephen Wheeler, editor of the CMG, when he fell off his horse in December 1882, also mentioned in Something of Myself, p.64 [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.1, p.27, note 2.]

Dr MacDougall of Halifax, the surgeon who attended Mrs Kipling on voyage between Jamaica and Bermuda, 1930, when she was dangerously ill.

Sir Andrew Macphail (1864-1938), pathologist and writer, was Professor of Medical History at McGill University, 1907-37; knighted for war services in 1918. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol. 3, p.277, note 1.]

William Somerset Maugham (1874- 1965): Born in Paris. After attending Heidelberg University he studied medicine in St.Thomas’s for six years, but never practised, except as a student in the London slums. He met Kipling several times between the wars. [Information from Everyman’s Dictionary of Literary Biography, Dent, 1965, and Harry Ricketts, The Unforgiving Minute, A Life of Rudyard Kipling, p.377.]

William Stanley Melsome (1865-1944), BA, MA, and MD, Cambridge, practised in Bath, where he attended RK and CK. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.4, p.362.]

Dr Miles attended Kipling in 1922.

Axel Munthe (1857-1949) Swedish physician and psychiatrist, physician to the Swedish royal family. Kipling met him in Stockholm in 1907. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.3, p293, note 11.]

Henry R.Newman (1843-1917) originally trained as a doctor, but became an artist. He went to Europe in 1869 and settled in Florence. Kipling met him in Egypt in 1913. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.4, p.162, note 4.]

Sir William Osler (1849-1919) Canadian physician, pathologist, medical historian, Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, then at Johns Hopkins, Then Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford from 1905; Baronet,1911. After the Encaenia at Oxford in 1907 (June 27th-July 3rd), Osler wrote to Mrs Brewster:

“(Kipling) stayed with us - such a jolly fellow, so full of fun and with an extraordinary interest in everything. Mrs Kipling is very bright, & we fell in love with them both. Mark Twain was most enthusiastic about Kipling. It was delightful to hear them joking together.”
Mrs Kipling and Mrs Osler were distant cousins. Osler was responsible for much of Kipling’s interest in medical history. In October, 1910, Kipling sent him a copy of Rewards And Fairies, with a note saying:

“Dear Osler,- Herewith my book of Tales. I wouldn’t bother you with it except for Nick Culpepper and Laennec for whom I feel you are in a way responsible.
Yours very sincerely, Rudyard Kipling.”
[Information from Thomas Pinney,editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol. 3, p.460, note 5 and Vol. 3, p.460, note 6, and Harvey Cushing, The Life of Sir William Osler, Oxford University Press, 1940, p.783 and p.927-8.]


Stephen Paget (1855-1912), a surgeon, founded the Research Defence Society in 1908 to defend the use of animals in scientific experiments. He wrote to Kipling in 1912 inviting him to become a Vice-president of the Society - He accepted. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.4, p.97.]

(?) Charles Bland Radcliffe studied medicine at the University of Paris. (His father was a ministerial colleague of the Revd Joseph Kipling, JLK’s father ). His consulting-rooms were in Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square. He became the family doctor for Georgiana Burne-Jones (RK’s aunt) and her family, and delivered Kipling’s sister, Trix. I think it is possible that he was the doctor sent to Southsea to examine the young Kipling’s eyes and reported that he was half-blind. (Although in “Baa Baa Black Sheep” it was Inverarity Sahib, who knew Papa and Mamma, and was commissioned to see Punch and Judy, and who had “ushered” Punch into the world). [Information from Arthur R Ankers, Pater9-10, and Something of Myself, p.17.]

Dr Ridsdale, Rottingdean. (His sister married Stanley Baldwin.) In a letter to his friend, Dr James Conland, 17-18 December 1897, Kipling said the local doctor was “very young but very enthusiastic”. Kipling was interested in a new germ-killing remedy and oxygen gas (local) treatment tried out on the local publican. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.2, p.330.]

Sir Humphrey Rolleston attended Kipling in 1922.

Ronald Ross (1857-1932) showed that malaria was transmitted to man through the bite of the anopheles mosquito. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902. Professor in the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Corresponded with Kipling in May 1909. Ross was also a keen fisherman and friend of Sir Henry Rider Haggard. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.3, p.376 and Lilias Rider Haggard, The Cloak That I Left, Hodder & Stoughton, 1951, p.268-271.]

Dr Roux, Paris, attended Kipling in 1933.

Gerald (Peter) Stanley an English doctor practising in Paris. RK and CK frequently stayed with him and his family. His wife, Frances Park, was a granddaughter of Mrs Julia Catlin of Morristown, New Jersey who had become friendly with the Kiplings in 1894 when they went to Bermuda. [Information from Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.4, p.25, notes 7 & 8 and Harold Orel, A Kipling Chronology, p.35.]

Dr Charles Henry Shinglewood Taylor He was House Physician at St.George’s Hospital, London in 1911, when Kipling sent him two letters from Engelberg in January that year. He appears to have had an interest in ice-hockey, almost as if he had played ice-hockey at Engelberg on some previous occasion. He later became Senior House Physician and House Surgeon at St George’s Throat and Nose Department, and according to the Medical Directory, 1931, was a reserve officer in the R.A.F. [Information from “Kipling and Ice Hockey”, the Kipling Journal, Vol.73, No.289, March 1999, p.12]

Dr Wainright, Bermuda. The surgeon who looked after Mrs Kipling in hospital in Bermuda in 1930.

Sir Alfred Webb-Johnson attended Kipling in 1931 & 1936; President of the Royal College of Surgeons; According to Lord Birkenhead in his biography of Kipling, Sir Alfred edited Something of Myself after Kipling’s death.

Sir Almroth Wright (1861-1947), studied arts and medicine simultaneously in Trinity College, Dublin. Developed a vaccine against typhoid. When the Boer War started he was reluctantly given permission by the War Office to inoculate “such men as should voluntarily present themselves”. Only 4 per cent volunteered for inoculation. During the First World War it became policy to vaccinate all troops being sent abroad and his vaccine undoubtedly reduced the death rate from typhoid. He became pathologist and bacteriologist at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington. He was knighted in 1906. Kipling corresponded with him (?) in 1916. [Information from Davis Coakley, Irish Masters of Medicine, Town House, 1992, p.241, and Thomas Pinney, editor, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Vol.4, p.419.]


[G.S.]