E. B. Brooke was born in Sutton, Surrey. His father, George Brooke, was a barrister-at-law of the Middle Temple attached to the Inland Revenue Department at Somerset House. His mother, George Brooke’s second wife, was the daughter of a former vicar of St. Martin’s Church, Brighton. His paternal grandfather, a well-known solicitor of Lincoln’s Inn Fields in his day, came of a family with long academic associations with Cambridge.
From his preparatory school at Arlington House, Brighton, he went to St. Edmund’s School, Hindhead, where he obtained a scholarship to Bradfield College. He then went with a scholarship to Caius College, Cambridge, before entering the medical school of St. Bartholomew’s where he was later house surgeon to the skin and venereal diseases department.
A short period at St. Giles Hospital, Camberwell, was followed by his emigration to South Africa, where he practised at Rondebosch, Cape Province, and then in Pretoria. There he became medical officer to the Randfontein Mine and did useful research into miners’ phthisis.
Returning to England in 1930 he took an appointment at Redhill Hospital (later Edgware General Hospital) under the Middlesex County Council, and later became successively medical superintendent of the Surrey County Hospital and the new St. Helier Hospital at Carshalton. When his house was bombed in 1944 he sustained severe facial injuries and lost an eye, but he allowed neither this nor the asthma which now troubled him to interfere with his zest for life and the happy informal character of his administrative duties.
He became a pioneer of the geriatric movement to which his main contribution was the domiciliary visit that preceded admission to a unit. Although never a great clinician he was loved by his colleagues because of his boyish sense of humour and his enjoyment of meeting old friends.
In 1937 he married Hilda Mary, daughter of Arthur Spurrell Gray, of Westcliff-on-Sea. They had five daughters and one son.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1957, 1, 232, 826; Lancet, 1957, 1, 221-2 (p); Times, 24 Jan. 1957.]