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Roy Porter

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 16 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:680

The greatest medical historian of his generation dies at the age of 55

The sudden and premature death of Professor Roy Porter at the age of 55 has removed one of our most creative and productive commentators on the medical enterprise, past and present. He died from a heart attack, cycling to his allotment in St Leonards, East Sussex. He had moved to St Leonards last May, in anticipation of his retirement last September from his chair at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London.

Roy seemed destined for distinction from an early age. The only child of a Bermondsey jeweller, he grew up in a south London working class home. His school, Wilson's Grammar School, Camberwell, had no tradition of sending its products to university, much less Cambridge, to where Roy won a scholarship. His double starred first in history (1968) was a taste of things to come, and it was followed by a junior research fellowship at his college, Christ's, and a teaching post at Churchill College, Cambridge. He …

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