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Biographical entry Asherson, Nehemiah (1897 - 1989)

MRCS 1923; FRCS 1926; MA Cape Town 1918; MB BS London 1924; LRCP 1923.

South Africa
1 November 1989
ENT surgeon


Nehemiah Asherson was born in South Africa in 1897, the son of Isaac Asherson and was educated initially at the University of Cape Town before coming to England in 1919, entering University College Hospital Medical School and qualifying in 1923 after gaining the Liston and Bruce Medal. He undertook early house appointments at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, before being casualty officer at University College Hospital. He was later Harker Smith cancer registrar at University College Hospital and developed an interest in pursuing a career in ear, nose and throat surgery, passing the FRCS in 1926. In 1929 he won the Geoffrey Duveen Travelling Scholarship in otorhinolaryngology which enabled him to go to Vienna for further study and shortly after his return was appointed to the staff of the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Children's Hospital, the Charterhouse Rheumatism Clinic and the Bolingbroke Hospital. He was appointed Hunterian Professor in 1941 and delivered a lecture on otogenic brain abscess. He served as President of the Section of Otology at the Royal Society of Medicine.

An abiding interest was medical history and he contributed many papers on historical subjects. In particular he will be remembered for his study The deafness of Beethoven (1965) and his 1979 bibliography of GJ Du Verney's Traité de l'organe de 1'ouie, the first scientific treatise on the ear, published in 1683. He was a liveryman of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and in addition to attending regularly was an enthusiastic member of the Faculty of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy.

He was a keen collector of medical books and continued to write on medical history during his retirement. He died on 1 November 1989, aged 91, survived by his wife, son and daughter.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 9 November 1989; Daily Telegraph 11 November 1989; The Independent 20 November 1989].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England