Arthur Phear was born in Croydon. His father, Henry Carlyon Phear, a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, was a barrister of Inner Temple. Through his grandmother, Catherine Phear, née Budd, Arthur Phear was connected with George and Richard Budd, both Fellows of the College, and with Dr William Budd, F.R.S., physician and epidemiologist, of Bristol. His mother was Mary, daughter of the Rev. Richard Daniel, of Combs, Suffolk. From Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took a first in the natural sciences tripos in 1888, he went to University College Hospital, where he held junior appointments after qualifying.
His first appointment as physician was at the Metropolitan Hospital, a post which he resigned when appointed physician to the Royal Free Hospital in 1901. He also held appointments as physician at the Royal Chest Hospital and the Royal National Hospital, Ventnor, and was consulting physician to the Royal Hospital at Chelsea and to the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank. During the 1914-18 War he served with the rank of temporary colonel as consulting physician to the British Salonika Forces and the Army of the Black Sea. Malaria was rampant and typhoid epidemics frequent, but with characteristic thoroughness and lack of ostentation he carried out the necessarily heavy duties for which he was twice mentioned in dispatches and awarded the C.B. in 1919.
He was Councillor of the College from 1925 to 1927, and examiner in medicine for the Universities of London and Cambridge. An excellent clinical teacher, he could always give a clear, reasoned account of his patients, who were to him individuals, and he knew his students personally, often entertaining them in his home. As he was naturally interested in the position of women in medicine he made important contributions to discussions which led to the change in the bye-law which admitted women to the Fellowship of the College. He took an active part in all aspects of the work of his hospitals, and by his grasp of essentials and of the solid foundations on which his principles were based, was able on many occasions to smooth out their problems.
Phear's main hobby was music, for he was himself an outstanding pianist. While on the active staff of the Royal Free Hospital he organised and conducted many concerts and performances by the Students’ Choral Society. After his retirement music filled much of his time and he was able to renew his interest in the organ, playing at times for church services and generously contributing towards the preservation and renewal of organs of special historic interest. At all times the countryside had a great attraction for him and he was a keen observer of birds and plants.
In 1897 he married Ellen Lister, daughter of Arthur Lister, F.R.S., and niece of Lord Lister; they had no children.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1959, 1, 653; Lancet, 1959, 1, 528 (p); Times, 28 Feb., 3 Mar.1959.]