Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Hardman, James (1909 - 1980)

MRCS and FRCS 1934; MB ChB Birmingham 1932; DHMSA 1970; LRCP 1934.

28 May 1980


James Hardman was born and brought up in Birmingham. He entered the Birmingham Medical School where he obtained his Primary Fellowship as student prosector in anatomy gaining the Peter Thompson Prize for anatomy. He had a brilliant student career, winning the Russell Memorial Prize for nervous disorders and the Ingleby Scholarship in midwifery and disorders of women before qualifying with second class honours in 1932. Resident posts followed in the General and Queen's Hospitals, Birmingham, and he became FRCS in 1934.

In 1936 he became clinical assistant to Ernest Finch at the Sheffield Royal Infirmary and in 1937, honorary clinical assistant to Geoffrey Jefferson at Manchester Royal Infirmary. During this period, he published several papers on the microscopical structure and the abnormal blood supplies to certain cerebral tumours, but he found writing slow and difficult and he begrudged the time lost to his clinical work.

In the late thirties, neurosurgery was in its infancy and the results were generally depressing, but Hardman had entered medicine with the declared intention of becoming a brain surgeon. With his background of anatomical knowledge and this determined dedication to his ambition, it is not surprising that he succeeded and, at the very early age of thirty, he applied for, and obtained, the post of neurosurgeon to the Sheffield Royal Infirmary. This was a new appointment and he set about creating a new service which integrated neuropathology, macrophysiology, psychology and neuro-anaesthesia. During the ensuing years he became engrossed in his organising and clinical work, sparing little time for research or writing or attending clinical meetings or conferences abroad. He was, however, a brilliant teacher and a shrewd diagnostician and compulsive worker. As time passed, he shifted his allegiance from Aston Villa to Sheffield United and at the age of 50 his clinical work became less arduous and he found time for his other great life interest - the history of medicine. In 1970, in his sixties, he sat for, and obtained, the Diploma in the History of Medicine at the Society of Apothecaries where he lectured all too infrequently. With the help of his wife, Una, he made a shrewd and enormous collection of books throughout his later life and he was very proud of being made honorary lecturer in the history of medicine at the University of Sheffield. His vast collection of journals and books on the history, biography and bibliography of medicine, largely related to anatomy and neurology was sold at Sotheby's in June 1981, the sale catalogue of that occasion runs to four pages of very interesting reading.

Before Hardman retired, he bought a country house in Bedfordshire where he slowly transferred his precious collection of books. He cut the grass and generally tidied his own garden and entertained his friends of the Osler Club or the Society of Apothecaries. In all of his work, he was supported and advised by his wife Una who was also his anaesthetist at the Royal in Sheffield.

He died suddenly on 28 May 1980 at the age of 71, leaving his wife and two children.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1980, 280, 1547; Lancet 1980, 1, 1427].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England