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Biographical entry Woolf, Albert Edward Mortimer (1884 - 1957)

MRCS 12 November 1908; FRCS 14 October 1909; LRCP 1908; BA Cambridge 1905; BCh 1909; MB 1911.

3 October 1884
6 April 1957
General surgeon


Born on 3 October 1884 in London the son of Mortimer Woolf (afterwards OBE) and his wife Miriam, he was educated at Clifton College and Emmanuel College, Cambridge taking third-class honours in the Natural Sciences Tripos part I, 1905. He took his clinical training at the London Hospital, where he served as house physician and house surgeon, and was demonstrator of anatomy at King's College, Strand.

Woolf took the Fellowship in 1909 and was appointed to the surgical staff of various hospitals in north-east London and the adjoining part of Essex; he practised privately at 94 Harley Street. His chief appointment was at Queen Mary's Hospital for the East End where he was ultimately senior surgeon, and he also served as consulting surgeon to the East End Maternity Hospital, East Ham Memorial Hospital, the Forest Hospital, Buckhurst Hill, and at Epping to St Margaret's Hospital and the Cottage Hospital. He also served the London Orphan Asylum, Watford, and the British Red Cross Rheumatic Clinic, and was Surgeon Emeritus to Lord Mayor Treloar's Home at Alton, Hampshire.

During the war of 1914-18, he was a surgical specialist in the RAMC in France, Mesopotamia, India, and Serbia.

Mortimer Woolf was a well-known figure in London surgery, and did much for the profession, especially in the City and east London, through his long and active association with the Hunterian Society. He was for many years its honorary secretary and honorary editor reviving its Transactions in 1947 after more than thirty years' gap, and was President in 1926-27 and again in 1945; he delivered the Society's Hunterian Oration in 1931. It was largely through Woolf's enthusiasm and industry that the Society's museum and library were improved, the honorary services of C Robert Rudolf, the well-known dental surgeon and art- collector, were secured as curator and librarian, and a room equipped for the Society's collections at the Ciba Foundation. He was a regular contributor to the professional journals on a wide range of subjects.

After retirement Woolf lived at Ash Green, Baldwin's Hill, Loughton on the edge of Epping Forest, where he was a keen gardener and tree grower. He was chairman of Yeatman and Co, of Watford, the fruit preservers, and found his recreation in golf, travel, and music. He was a member of the Savage Club.

Woolf was of large and imposing build with a quiet friendly manner and boundless energy and generosity.

He married Laura Nathan who survived him with their two daughters. Woolf died at his home on 6 April 1957 aged 72. A memorial service was held at the West London Synagogue, Upper Berkely Street on 11 April.

Early diagnosis of gall-stones. Practitioner 1925, 114, 128.
Pain. President's address. Hunterian Soc. 1926.
Some personalities of the Hunterian epoch. President's address, Hunterian Society 1927. Ann Med Hist. 1929, 1, 105.
The use of heroin after abdominal operations, a warning. Brit med J 1929, 1, 499. Some affections of the gall-bladder. Practitioner 1930, 124, 613.
Hunterian oration: Hunterian Soc. 1931.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 8 April 1957 p 14 a and 10 April p 13 e by G R Mather Cordiner who died before his eulogy of Woolf was printed, and 12 April p 12 b memorial service; Brit med J. 1957, 1, 950 with portrait and appreciation by Sir Cecil Wakeley, Bt; Lancet 1957, 1, 843 with portrait and appreciation by DTD; Hunter Soc Trans. 1957, 15, 8 by J C Ainsworth-Davis with excellent portrait; personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England