Cyril Astley ClarkeRobert (Bob) Edwin BowersNorman Arthur Glossop CovellPeter Derrick DrinkwaterGeorge Alexander Findlay (Alistair)Norman MendickRobert MoffatWilliam Norman-TaylorJohn OrrWalter Norman Ramsden

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 10 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:367

Cyril Astley Clarke

Embedded Image

Former professor of medicine Liverpool University and president of the Royal College of Physicians (b 1907; q Guy's 1932; KBE, MD, FRCP, FRCOG, FRCPath, FRS), d 21 November 2000. Cyril discovered with my mother Féo that anti-D immunisation prevented Rhesus haemolytic disease. In 1932 he had seemed ill equipped for research and presidency of the Royal College. He worked in medical insurance to sail at the weekends at Itchenor, thus meeting my mother. In 1998 in the note on her coffin he wrote: “The prettiest girl in Sussex.” Concerned by events early in 1939 he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, sailing to Australia aboard the Empress of Scotland. By 1945 consultant physician posts were like gold dust. In 1946 he secured one: life seemed set for NHS practice in Liverpool with private rooms in Rodney Street. In the 1950s came the turning point—headlong into genetics, developing also his lifelong interest in lepidoptera. He studied mimicry in the butterfly Papillio dardanus; in man, ABO blood groups. Rounding on the Rhesus he then confounded immunologists, obstetricians, and paediatricians. Anti-D really worked, a discovery enabling countless thousands to survive. Numerous accolades followed. He succeeded Lord Cohen of Birkenhead to the Liverpool medicine chair in 1965, transforming the department into one of the finest. Cyril became the first non-London Royal College president. He initiated its research unit and fundamental changes in the MRCP. He had boundless energy, charm, unusual intelligence, great impatience, and wit. He once told me he had failed to reach the House of Lords because he had infuriated a GP peer by indicating an association between deaths from meningoccal meningitis and Thursday afternoons, the GP's traditional half day. He added with a grin: “Sic transit gloria mundi.” He leaves three sons.

[Charles Clarke]

Robert (Bob) Edwin Bowers

Consultant dermatologist North Gloucestershire 1950-80 …

View Full Text

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial