Obituary: Harold Attwood (1928-2005)

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  • Post published:August 7, 2005
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A tribute on behalf of the JSA

by Bronwen Hickman

Members were saddened to hear of the death on June 8 of Harold Attwood, a long-time member of the Johnson Society of Australia. Harold was a gentle, softly-spoken Scot, an eminent medical man with a love of literature. As custodian of the Medical History Museum at Melbourne University, he gave a lecture to the Society ten years ago on Johnson’s lung, explaining why the medical textbook illustration long thought to have been Johnson’s lung could not have been so, and why!

When he moved into a nursing home some years ago, he donated books from his collection to the Johnson Society and to Monash University’s Rare Books Library

Harold was generous with his time. When I had reached an impasse in the book I was writing (what was this ‘disease of the brain’ that Victorians spoke of?) he was happy to read the medical evidence and give me a diagnosis (tertiary syphilis!); he added fascinating (and gruesome!) stories of his early days as a pathologist in the country. He was courteous and kindly, with a gentle and delightful sense of humour.

We remember him with warmth, and regret his passing.