Andrew Balfour

(1873—1931) expert in tropical medicine and novelist

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(1873–1931), KCMG (1930), married (1902) Grace Nutter. A pioneer of preventive medicine, Balfour was the son of an Edinburgh doctor. He was educated at George Watson's College and at Edinburgh University (MB, 1894, MD, 1898) and Strasburg University. He travelled the world during his period of service as a naval surgeon. Balfour was involved in research at Caius College, Cambridge during the 1890s (DPH 1897). He was decorated for his service as a field surgeon during the Boer War. His experiences during this period inspired a series of short stories for Chambers' Journal which was later published as Cashiered (1902). After his marriage he resumed his research work in Khartoum at the Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratory, leaving only to enlist in 1913. In 1915 he was made temporary lieutenant-colonel of the RAMC. From 1923 he was director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In his youth he wrote historical romances inspired by R. L. Stevenson, such as By Stroke of Sword (1897) and To Arms: Being Some Passages from the Early Life of Allan Oliphant, Chirurgeon, Written by Himself (1898). What distinguishes the latter from other contemporary historical romances is the pastiche of eighteenth-century English. Oliphant, who has survived the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie, remembers his part in the earlier uprising of the prince's father. Gentleman Jerry, or, How The Kraal Was Saved (1899) and The Golden Kingdom: Being an Account of the Quest for the Same as Described in the Remarkable Narrative of Doctor Henry Mortimer (1903) show the influence of Rider Haggard. The stories are mostly of the stiff-upper-lip variety, but with an underlying current of interest in miscegenation. His obituary in the Times states that ‘he stood throughout the long years of his service to his fellows, unmoved by success and unflinching in the face of opposition and danger’.

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.