General > Sir Stewart Duke-Elder, 1898-1978
Sir Stewart Duke-Elder, 1898-1978

Stewart Duke-Elder was born in Tealing on 22 April 1898, son of the Tealing Free Church Minister, the Reverend Neil Elder. He graduated MA (Hons) in Natural Science and BSc with distinction in physiology. He qualified in 1923, obtained the FRCS in 1924 and proceeded MD in 1925 and became an eminent ophthalmologist. In 1932 he operated on the then Prime Minister, Ramsay Macdonald for glaucoma. At an early age he was appointed surgeon oculist to King Edward VIII and subsequently to King George VI and then to Queen Elizabeth 11. He was knighted in 1933.

He was also known for his many contributions to medical literature, publishing the System of Ophthalmology, in fifteen volumes, the first being published in 1958 and the last in 1976. Early in life he learnt to depend on fewer hours of sleep than most people need and that is part of the reason for his most amazing output of learned papers and books throughout his life.  In World War 11,he was consultant ophthalmic surgeon to the Army with the rank of Brigadier. He was made an honorary member of practically all the ophthalmologic societies in the world and of many other scientific bodies, and was given numerous honorary degrees and fellowships.

His obituary in the British Medical Journal further described him as "a warm-hearted and friendly Scot, with his charming smile and puckish sense of humour he would at once put strangers at their ease." Sir Stewart Duke-Elder died on 27 March 1978 aged 79 and was survived by his wife Phyllis Duke-Elder.

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