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Biographical entry Gwillim, Calvert Merton (1899 - 1972)

MRCS 1921; FRCS 1927; MB BS London 1922; DPH 1923; MD 1924; FRCS 1940; FRCOG 1942; LRCP 1921

26 October 1899
2 September 1972
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Calvert Gwillim was born on 26 October 1899 in Ceylon. After spending his childhood on that island he was educated first at Swansea and later at St Bartholomew's Hospital, from where he qualified in 1921. He first became a house surgeon at Leicester Royal Infirmary where he gained considerable experience in general surgery. In 1923 he took his DPH and the following year proceeded to take his MD in obstetrics, gynaecology and medicine. After his house appointments he became gynaecological tutor at St George's Hospital, London and also assistant medical registrar. In 1936 he was appointed to the staff of St George's and worked at that hospital until his retirement in 1965. In addition to his appointment at St George's he became obstetric physician to the Samaritan Hospital for Women and Gynaecological surgeon to the Weir Hospital and at Maidenhead and Bushey Hospitals. During the war he was in the EMS and worked at St Stephen's Hospital in Fulham Road, but later returned to St George's to act first as a casualty surgeon and later as a gynaecologist.

Gwillim was an examiner for the University of Cambridge and as associate editor of Operative surgery, in which he wrote chapters on vaginal hysterectomy and uterine prolapse. As an obstetrician he was conservative and with small hands was an extremely dexterous performer of obstetrical manoeuvres before the days when Caesarian section made obstetrics an easier problem. Gwillim had few interests outside his work but made a small but fine collection of Oriental ceramics. As a Welshman he was a great lover of the Gower peninsular where he spent many holidays.

Gwillim's life and character were a strange mixture; his academic attainments were very high but although he liked practice he was never prepared to compromise in any way his own convenience to the wishes of his patients. His influence as a gynaecologist will remain for many years in this country and abroad, but he never extended his remarkable gifts to the College of which he was a Fellow, or to medical politics. Gwillim's desire to stand alone and his reluctance to seek help from others forced him sometimes into an antagonism with his colleagues which he never wished, but he earned the affection and admiration of those who were privileged to work with him.

He married twice and was survived by his son David. Gwillim died at Reading on 2 September 1972 at the age of 72.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet 1972, 2, 608; The Times 5 September 1972].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England