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Biographical entry Shaw, Wilfred (1897 - 1953)

MRCS 28 July 1921; FRCS 14 June 1923; BA Cambridge 1918; BCh 1921; MB 1924; MD 1928; LRCP 1921; FRCOG 1932.

12 December 1897
9 December 1953
Obstetric and gynaecological surgeon


Born at Birmingham on 12 December 1897 son of Isaac Shaw JP, he was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham and at St John's College, Cambridge where he was an open entrance scholar and won a foundation scholarship and Wright's prize and took first-class honours in the first part of the Natural Sciences tripos in 1918. During the war of 1914-18 he had served as a surgeon probationer in the Royal Navy. He received his clinical training at St Bartholomew's where he won the Matthews Dunn and the Lawrence gold medals and the Lawrence and Cattlin research scholarships. He won the Raymond Horton Smith prize at Cambridge in 1929.

He was house surgeon at St Bartholomew's to Sir Charles Gordon-Watson, took postgraduate courses in Dublin and Vienna, and was for two years chief assistant and subsequently surgeon-in-charge of the obstetrics and gynaecology department at Bart's.

He was resident assistant physician-accoucheur under Dr Herbert Williamson 1926-31. This was a post specially created for him, involving teaching and the handling of emergencies. He was also on the staff of St Andrew's Hospital, Dollis Hill and the Brentwood Hospital. He was awarded a certificate of merit for his Jacksonian Essay at the College in 1931 and gave an Arnott demonstration in 1933. He examined in midwifery for Oxford, Cambridge, and London Universities and for the Conjoint Board. He served on the Council of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Section of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Shaw was a voracious reader and an active reviewer of books, for he was a ready writer. He published several important articles and his two textbooks became extremely popular with students and have been revised by later editors. A third textbook, on operative gynaecology, was completed only two weeks before his death.

He was an excellent anatomist and pathologist, conservative in his methods but bold and fearless in emergency. He was a man of the highest Christian motives, endowed with wisdom and a sense of fun, and a gift for attracting the confidence of his patients and many friends. He found time for gardening and collecting ivory.

Shaw fell ill in his fifty-fourth year and died on 9 December 1953 three days before his fifty-sixth birthday. He was survived by his wife, three sons, and a daughter. He was already a leader in his specialty, with a great reputation as a teacher.


Textbook of Gynaecology. Churchill 1936; 6th edition 1952.
Textbook of Midwifery. Churchill 1943; 3rd edition 1948.
Textbook for Midwives. Churchill 1948.
Textbooks of operative Gynaecology. Livingston 1954.
The pathology of ovarian tumours, J Obstet Gynaec Brit Emp 1932, 39, 13, 234, 1933, 40, 257, 805, 1125.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 10 December 1953, p 10 d and 19 December page 8 e by John Beattie and MEH; Lancet 1953, 2, 1320 with appreciation by JH; Brit med J 1953, 2, 1380 with portrait and appreciations by Malcolm Donaldson and JH, 1954, 1, 48 by CRM, and p 102 by J B Gurney Smith and GASH; J Obstet Gynaec Brit Emp 1954, 61, 260 by John Beattie, with portrait. St Bart's Hosp J 1954, 58, 35 by John Beattie, with same portrait but different text].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England