Monday, March 22, 2010

Aileen Adair

Emergency Doctor by A. Adair (Digit Book D370, 1960) Cover by R. A. Osborne
A man came into Casualty and asked to have a wart removed. The doctor said this was unnecessary. he produced a gun and said: "Would this make you change your mind, doctor?"
__But such incidents are a rarity. The round of the Emergency Doctor is filled with small acts of kindness and skill to suffering humanity—removing a foreign body from a child's eye, reviving a prostrate alcoholic, examining a car crash victim, and attaching the laconic initials 'B.I.D.'—brought in dead—to a corpse.
__Telling descriptions of human relations in hospital make this a doubly readable book.
Aileen Adair was credited with two non-fiction books published in the 1950s relating to the author's experiences in the world of medicine, the first—The Moon is Full—on her experiences as a psychiatrist in a mental hospital, the second—Emergency Doctor—on her experiences in a casualty ward. I've only seen the latter and the author carefully avoids making any of the institutions or characters recognisable.

Aileen Adair also disguises her true identity: the National Library of Scotland notes that the name is a pseudonym and, as far as I'm aware, her true identity has never been revealed. From reviews we learn that Dr Aileen Adair was the daughter of a prominent Irish doctor who, from an early age, was determined to become a doctor and psychiatrist herself. She was now in her mid-thirties, so it is likely she was born around 1922. Although her first book was reprinted in America, it would appear not to have been registered for copyright.

The Moon is Full by Aileen Adair (Panther 764, 1958) Cover by Glenn Steward


The Moon is Full. London, Allan Wingate, 1957; New York, Philosophical Library, 1957.
Emergency Doctor. London, Blond & Wingate, 1958.


  1. Emergency Doctor was written by my mother Dr Rosalie Kirwan. Born in Ballinasloe in Ireland in 1916 her father was the medical superintendant of Ballinasloe Mental Hospital. She became a GP and then a psychiatrist. She married my father the writer Sean O'Callaghan. She died in 1968 in Newcastle upon Tyne where she is buried. Matthew O'Callaghan - Melton Mowbray

  2. Thank you, Matthew. It's always a pleasure to have someone share first hand knowledge -- certainly it was one of the reasons I set up this blog in the first place. I appreciate you taking the time to write.



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