H. H. Carleton was born at Warrington, the son of the Rev. E. C. E. Carleton. His mother was Christian Anne Speakman, the daughter of William Speakman, who lived at Southport. Educated at Rossall School and Keble College, Oxford, he took first class honours in the natural sciences school and did his medical training at St. Thomas’s Hospital. After graduation he held the post of house physician at St. Thomas’s Hospital. He then went into private practice at Edgbaston, but the onset of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1911 forced him to give this up. As a patient he responded to treatment at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Davos Platz. He worked for his D.M. during convalescence there, and on recovery he was appointed medical superintendent.
He was inspired by his sense of patriotism at the outbreak of the First World War to volunteer for the R.A.M.C., and, in spite of such recent illness, survived some tough war experiences in France. After the war he settled in Bristol, and with an appointment to Ashton Court War Hospital he was able to further his influence on the neuroses by his work on shell-shocked soldiers. Soon afterwards he was elected assistant physician to the Bristol General Hospital, and later neurologist to the Bristol Eye Hospital. His experience at Davos no doubt provoked an interest in pulmonary tuberculosis, so that in those early years he did considerable artificial pneumothorax work and published papers; but as the years passed he turned more and more to the neurological side of medicine, and acquired an extensive consulting practice.
He read papers at clinical meetings, and took a valuable and informative part in clinical discussions; his presidential address to the Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1945,‘Nature and science’, was outstanding, and illustrated very well his interest and wide reading in philosophy. Notable, too, was his paper in Brain (1923,46, 221-36) jointly with R. G. Gordon, on hysterical pain, a revealing contribution to the elucidation of the nature of certain neuroses.
Sympathetic and approachable, Carleton was much liked, not only by his colleagues, but by students, who enjoyed his teaching on ward-rounds and his lectures on medicine at Bristol University. A cultured man, with a knowledge of five languages, he was willing to hold forth on almost any subject as a provocative, but entertaining conversationalist, with a sharp sense of humour, a generous and outspoken temperament, and a great sense of fair play.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1961, 2, 388; Lancet, 1961, 2, 272-3.]