William Hale-White was born in London, the son of William Hale White, the author who employed the pseudonym "Mark Rutherford". He graduated as M.B. at Guy’s Hospital in 1879 and held resident appointments there and at the Evelina Hospital for Children. He was demonstrator of anatomy at Guy’s from 1881 till 1885, in which year he was elected assistant physician and assumed the lectureship on materia medica, pharmacology and therapeutics. He became full physician in 1890 and lecturer on medicine in 1899, and retired from the active staff in 1919. During the War of 1914-1918 he acted as consulting physician to a number of military hospitals, holding the rank of brevet colonel. Hale-White was a Censor of the Royal College of Physicians and delivered the Croonian Lectures in 1897 and the Harveian Oration in 1927.
His fame, however, was founded on his Materia Medica, Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Therapeutics (1892) which, known familiarly as "Hale-White", went through no fewer than twenty-six editions in his lifetime. He also wrote on a wide variety of subjects for which his experience as a general physician qualified him. In later life he turned to medical biography. In this field his best-known works were Great Doctors of the Nineteenth Century (1935) and Keats As Doctor and Patient (1938), in which he maintained that "all we know is that Keats was attacked by reviewers and died of consumption". Hale-White, who was made K.B.E. in 1919, was a man of all-round ability, eminent as a consultant and clinician, as a teacher, and as a leader in medical affairs. He married in 1886 Edith, daughter of A. D. Fripp, R.W.S., and sister of Sir Alfred Fripp, F.R.C.S, his colleague at Guy’s, and was survived by one of their sons. When he died in 1949, over sixty years after his election as F.R.C.P, he was Senior Fellow on the College List.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1949; B.M.J., 1949; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1949, 6]