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Biographical entry Griffith, Adrian Nicholas (1928 - 1961)

MRCS and FRCS 12 December 1957; MB BChir Cambridge 1952; DLO RCPS 1954.

29 October 1961


Born in 1928 of a medical family of five generations, son of John Richard Griffith FRCS and Elsie Maud Griffith MRCS, he was educated at Stowe School, Christ's College, Cambridge, where he won the E G Fearnsides scholarship, and St Bartholomew's Hospital. Soon after qualification in 1952 Griffith was attracted to oto-laryngology, and held house appointments at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, Bart's, and the Lincoln County Hospital. During his military service he was a specialist with the BAOR. Later he served as registrar in the ear nose and throat department at Great Ormond Street, at the plastic and facio-maxillary surgery unit at Chepstow, and in the neurosurgical and neuro-otological department at the National Hospital, Queen Square.

Adrian Griffith was awarded a Wernher Research Scholarship in Otology by the Medical Research Council in 1959 and went for a year to Dr John Lindsay at the University of Chicago. While there he became seriously ill and returned to Britain for treatment. On recovery he continued active work as senior lecturer in surgery at St Bartholomew's; there and at Queen Square he worked on problems concerning the auditory ossicles. In the spring of 1961 Griffith married Catherine Wilson, a principal mezzosoprano at Sadler's Wells who also sang at Glyndebourne, and enjoyed under her care a few last months of great happiness.

Though still quite young when he died, a brilliant future had been predicted for Griffith. In addition to his achievements in medicine, he was a man of wide interests ranging from literature art and music to sailing, wildfowling and archaeology. He had climbed and explored in Newfoundland and Iceland. An able editor of the St Bartholomew's Hospital Journal, he was also a founder member of the Junior Osler Club, and in 1952 won the Wix Prize for his essay on Rodrigo Lopez, the Elizabethan physician.

A skilful surgeon and scientist, a versatile and much loved man, Adrian Griffith died at his home in Canonbury, London on 29 October 1961, aged 33.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1961, 2, 1296 with portrait; Lancet 1961, 2, 1210 with appreciation by TEC; St Bart's Hosp J 1962, 65, with portrait, by SPL].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England