Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Short, Arthur Rendle (1880 - 1953)

MRCS and FRCS 18 June 1908; BSc London 1899; MB BS 1903; MD 1904; DTM 1908.

6 January 1880
14 September 1953
General surgeon


Born at Bristol on 6 January 1880 the son of Edward Rendle Short, chief clerk and later a director of Fry's the chocolate manufacturers, and his wife Katherine Case. His grandfather William Short came to Bristol from Caister, Lincolnshire as schoolmaster to Muller's Orphanage and his grandmother Jane Rendle was from Polperro, Cornwall, where her fore-bears had been parish clerks since the seventeenth century. His parents were members of the Association of Brethren and he grew up in a profoundly evangelical Christian home and neighbourhood. His father's savings were lost in a bank failure in 1882, and he educated himself by scholarships, of which he won an unusual number in the Bristol Medical School. He graduated BSc with first-class honours in geology at University College, Bristol, and received his clinical training at the General Hospital, Bristol, and University College Hospital, London. He qualified in 1903, took his MD degree in 1904 and the Fellowship in 1908. He had held resident posts at the General Hospital and the Royal Infirmary, Bristol and taken postgraduate courses at St Bartholomew's and Guy's Hospital, and at the School of Tropical Medicine, since he hoped to become a medical missionary. In 1908 he married and returned to Bristol where he was appointed to the staff of the Royal Infirmary as surgical registrar, and of University College, as lecturer in physiology. From 1922 to 1933 he was surgeon to the Infirmary, and from 1933 to 1946 Professor of Surgery in the University of Bristol. He was granted the title of Emeritus when he retired. During the first world war he served in the RAMC in France.

Short was a Hunterian Professor at the College in 1914 lecturing on surgical shock and later examined for the Primary Fellowship. He was a member of the council of the Association of Surgeons. He was a man of strong religious principles, but with a keen sense of fun. He was an excellent teacher and surgeon, absolutely self-confident without any vanity or self-seeking. He particularly liked the company of young people and of working men and women. He was a devoted citizen of Bristol, preferring the poor quarters of the old historic town, which were largely destroyed in the second world war. He was surgeon to Clifton College for 28 years, and President of the Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1935. He was medical adviser to the South-West Regional Cancer Bureau.

He was a keen naturalist and usually spent his holidays in the remoter parts of Cornwall. His Christian life was active and charitable, and he was a founder of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship for the promotion of evangelical Christian devotion among undergraduates.

Short married in 1908 Helen Henrietta daughter of Henry Williams Case. Their three children all entered the medical profession; their son Tyndale John Rendle-Short MRCP was Professor of Child Health in the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and their elder daughter Coralie FRCOG became Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Makerere College, Kampala, Uganda in 1953 shortly before his death.

He died suddenly at Hereford on 14 September 1953 aged 73, survived by his wife, and their son and two daughters. Mrs Rendle Short died at Clifton on 30 November 1965, survived by her children.

Short published several medical and several religious books, and many papers in the Bristol medico-chirurgical Journal, the British Journal of Surgery and other periodicals; there is a bibliography in the life by Capper and Johnson. His most successful publications were two manuals: The New Physiology in surgical and general practice 1911, with four later edi┬Čtions, and The Synopsis of Physiology 1927, with three later editions. He was joint-editor of the Medical Annual for more than thirty years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [W Melville Capper and Douglas Johnson: Arthur Rendle Short, surgeon and Christian, London, Inter-Varsity Fellowship 1954, 208 pages, with portraits, bibliography, etc; The Times 15 September 1953, p 8 d; Brit J Surg 1953, 41, 316 with portrait; Brit med J 1953, 2, 728 with portrait, and appreciations by A Wilfrid Adams and W M Capper; Lancet1953, 2, 682 with portrait and appreciation; Brit J Surg 1964, 51, 561-564 by WMC with portraits; The Times 2 December 1965, death of Mrs Short].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England