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Biographical entry Oliver, Leslie Claremont (1909 - 1990)

MRCS 1933; FRCS 1935; MB BS London 1933; FACS 1957; LRCP 1933.

5 February 1909
4 August 1990


Leslie Claremont Oliver was born on 5 February 1909, the son of an engineer. He was educated at Latymer School and Guy's Hospital, London, qualifying in 1933 and proceeding immediately to FRCS in 1935, gaining general surgical experience as registrar, Bristol General Hospital, and as resident assistant surgeon, West London Hospital, before beginning training in neurosurgery under Hugh Cairns at the London Hospital.

In 1939, at the outbreak of the second world war, he worked in the Emergency Medical Service as neurosurgeon at Woodford Green (Claybury) and Romford Hospitals, but in 1941 Cairns invited him to join the staff of the Military Hospital for Head Injuries at St Hugh's College, Oxford, as surgical specialist with the rank of Major. Towards the end of the war he was seconded to the West London Hospital to deal with the civilian casualties caused by the V2 rocket attacks and he continued his association with that Hospital, and later with Charing Cross Hospital on amalgamation, as consultant neurosurgeon until he retired in 1974. His major commitment after the war was however to the neurosurgical service he set up with help from Essex County Council at Romford - this became the North East Metropolitan Regional Neurosurgical Centre. Equally Leslie's ability was recognised when he was invited to become the first neurosurgeon at the Royal Northern Hospital. At all these hospitals his steady, meticulous and quietly competent clinical and operative ability was matched by his skill as a clinical teacher, especially in instructing young general surgeons in the management and operative surgery of head injuries. He was specifically elected to the Court of Examiners, Royal College of Surgeons - becoming its Chairman in due course - to ensure that FRCS candidates were tested in their knowledge of neurosurgery; this he did with kindly thoroughness. Leslie Oliver made significant contributions to the literature of general and neurosurgery exemplified in Essentials of neurosurgery (1952), Basic surgery (1958) - (emanating from the staff of the Royal Northern Hospital), Parkinson's disease (1967) and Removable intracranial tumours (1969). He was expert in stereotactic brain surgery. He was elected Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1957.

He married Irene Ferguson in 1933 and they had two sons. Secondly he married Regine de Quidt in 1949 and they had a daughter and a son. Leslie was a fluent French speaker and had a considerable knowledge of French culture, and understandably of French wines - he could not touch spirits.

He died suddenly on 4August 1990, aged 81, survived by his second wife, Regine, and his four children.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 14 August 1990; Daily Telegraph, 18 August 1990].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England