Harry Barkley was the youngest of five sons of Edward Barkley, master mariner, and Mabel Banks. He was educated at Oldershaw Grammar School, Wallasey, Cheshire, and Liverpool University, where he joined the department of biochemistry. He then moved to Glaxo, working on the development of penicillin during the second world war and serving as a part-time leading fireman in the industrial branch of the National Fire Service. He continued to work for Glaxo until 1949, studying medicine as a part-time student, and qualified in 1950 from St Mary’s Hospital.
While at St. Mary’s, he married Brenda Edith Ryman, who became professor of biochemistry at Charing Cross and subsequently mistress of Girton. They had two children, both of whom entered the medical profession.
After house officer posts at Fulham Hospital, Harry returned to St Mary’s, joining the department of pathology under Wilfred Newcomb, and in 1956 he became senior lecturer in histopathology. In 1960 he moved to the Hertford Group of hospitals as consultant histopathologist, returning to London in 1963 as consultant histopathologist at the Bolingbroke, before joining St James’s Hospital, Balham, in 1971.
As a pathologist he was devoted to the service of the patient. In committees he spoke little, but what he said was to the point, and he earned great respect for his common sense and tolerance. In the latter part of his career he became outstandingly successful in the interpretation of very small endoscopic biopsies.
As a young man Harry was a versatile athlete. His hobbies included photography and golf, and he had a keen appreciation of music, but his family was his abiding interest.
Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
[Brit.med.J., 1978, 2, 1650]