J. B. Lyons


1922-2007 [John Benignus; occas. pseud. Michael Fitzwilliam; var. 1920], b. 22 July [var. Jan.]., Kilkelly, Co. Mayo, son of a dispensary doctor; ed. Kilkelly Nat. School, and Castleknock Coll., Co. Dublin; went on to UCD, and grad. MD 1949; worked at Mater Hosp., Dublin and Castlebar County Hosp. moved to England; elected FRCPI 1959; consultant at St. Michael’s, Dun Laoghaire; travelled widely and visited Japan and S. America as ship’s doctor on cargo liner;
settled in Manchester; m. Muriel Jones, a nurse, 1950, with whom three children (David, Kate and Janes); settled in Dalkey, Co. Dublin, 1955, on being appt. consultant at St. Michael’s Hosp., Dun Laoghaire; visitd New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco on WHO fellowship; issued A Primer of Neurology (1974); appt. professor of medical history, Royal College of Surgeons, 1975; he edited the letters of Sylvester O'Halloran, MD, for the North Munster Antiquarian Journal, IX 1-2 (1962-63).
appt. consultant at Mercer’s Hosp., 1959; issued three pseudonymous novels as Michael Fitzwilliam; issued The Citizen Surgeon (1966), a life of Sir Victor Horsley; James Joyce and Medicine (1973), incorporating the theory that Joyce self-medicated syphilis; also issued Brief Lives of Irish Doctors (1978), The Mystery of Oliver Goldsmith’s Medical Degree (1979), and contrib. to Diseases in Dubliners: Tokens of Disaffection (1981); issued The Enigma of Tom Kettle (1983), a life of the Surgeon-Major Parke (1994), and The Story of Mercer’s Hospital, 1734-1991 (1991); d. 25 October 2007.

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Novels [as Michael Fitzwilliam]:
  • A Question of Surgery (London: Jarrolds 1960);
  • South Downs General Hospital (London: Jarrolds 1961), trans. into German as Skalpell und Morphium (Munich: Lichtenberg-Verlag 1964), 175pp.;
  • When Doctors Differ (London: Jarrolds 1963), and Do., repub. as A Matter of Medicine (London: Arrow 1965).
Biographies & Miscellaneous
  • The Citizien Surgeon: A Biography of Sir Victor Horsley, F.R.S., F.R.C.S., 1857-1916 (London: Dawnay 1966), 305pp., ill.
  • James Joyce and Medicine (Dublin: Dolmen [1973]);
  • Oliver St John Gogarty (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1976);
  • The Mystery of Oliver Goldsmiths Medical Degree (Dublin: Carraig Books 1978), pamph.;
  • Oliver St John Gogarty: The Man of Many Talents - A Biography (Dublin: Blackwater Press [1980]), 348p, ill. [[32pp. of pls.], 27cm.;
  • The Enigma of Tom Kettle: Irish Patriot, Essayist, Poet, British Soldier, 1880-1916 (Dublin: Glendale 1983);
  • The Irresistible Rise of the R.C.S.I. ([Dublin]: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland [1983]), 40pp., ill., 21 cm.
  • Scholar and Sceptic: The Career of James Henry M.D., 1798-1976 (Dublin: Glendale 1985);
  • Thrust Syphilis Down to Hell and Other Rejoyceana: Studies in the Border-lands of Literature and Medicine (Dublin: Glendale 1987);
  • The Quality of Mercer’s: The Story of Mercer’s Hospital, 1734-1991 (Dublin: Glendale 1991);
  • What Did I Die Of?: The Deaths of Parnell, Wilde, Synge, and Other Literary Pathologies (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1991);
  • William Henry Drummond: Poet in Patois (Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside 1994);
  • Surgeon-Major Parke’s African Journey 1887-89 (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1994), 295pp.;
  • Aspects of the History of Medicine in Ireland ([Dublin]: [s.n.] [1998]), 32pp., ill., ports., 21cm.

See also “Irish Medical Historiography” [in Journal of Irish Medical Association] (1978), p. 89-111 [copy held in Royal College of Physicians of London]

  • Ed., “The Letters of Sylvester O’Halloran”, in North Munster Antiq. Journal, IX, 1 (1962), pp.69-81; and Do., 2 (1963), pp.25-50 [2 pts.; offprint available in TCD Lib.].

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There is an obituary notice in Irish Journal of Medical Science, 177, 2 (June 2008).