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Biographical entry Wolff, Eugene (1896 - 1954)

MRCS 14 February 1918; FRCS 9 June 1927; LRCP 1918; MB BS London 1918.

11 March 1896
Oudtshoorn Cape, South Africa
25 February 1954
Ophthalmic surgeon


Born on 11 March 1896 at Oudtshoorn, Cape, South Africa, he was educated at University College School and Hospital, London, winning the Lister medal for clinical surgery in 1918 and serving as house surgeon and ophthalmic registrar. He was commissioned in the South African Medical Corps towards the end of the first world war, but returned to University College as demonstrator of anatomy in 1919 under the famous Grafton Elliot Smith; he also lectured on anatomy to the students of the Slade School of Art at University College 1920-30.

After a period as chief clinical assistant at Moorfields, he succeeded Basil Lang in 1928 as ophthalmic surgeon to the Royal Northern Hospital, became pathologist at the Royal Westminster Ophthalmic Hospital in 1930 and surgeon there in 1936. He was also on the staff of the Metropolitan, the Albert Dock, and the London Jewish hospitals. He was a consulting ophthalmic surgeon to the London County Council, and after the second world war he taught at the Institute of Ophthalmology and was a member of the North-Western Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board.

Wolff excelled not merely as a skilled surgeon and sympathetic physician, generous of time and concern in his patients' problems, he was also a good anatomist, pathologist, teacher, artist and writer. His successful books, which were illustrated by his own drawings and photographs, included: Anatomy for Artists (1926; 3rd edition 1947), A shorter Anatomy (1928), Anatomy of the Eye and Orbit (1933; 4th edition 1953, later revised by R J Last), Pathology of the Eye (1934; 3rd edition 1951), and Diseases of the Eye (1937; 4th edition 1952), He was also on the editorial board of the British Journal of Ophthalmology, to which he contributed several papers.

He was a vice-president of the Ophthalmological Society in 1945 and of the Ophthalmology sections of the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Medical Association, and an honorary member of the Belgian and Greek Ophthalmology Societies. He was awarded the William Mackenzie Memorial Medal at Glasgow in 1947.

Wolff married in 1923 Lydia Abravenel, member of a prominent French Sephardic family. He died suddenly on 25 February 1954 at 46 Wimpole Street, aged 57, survived by his wife and daughter, and was buried at the Jewish Cemetery, Hoop Lane, NW. He was a genial, modest, thoughtful, industrious, enthusiastic man, especially kind and hospitable to his graduate students. Music provided his chief recreation.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 26 February 1954 p 10 e, and 3 March p 10 d eulogy by EC; Brit J Ophthal 1954, 38, 253 by J H Doggart with good portrait; Lancet 1954, 1, 525 with appreciation by PMcG Moffatt; Brit med J 1954, 1, 587 with appreciations by Mr Moffatt and by HEL].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England