Grantly Dick-Read

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Memorial plaque, 25 Harley Street, London

Grantly Dick-Read (26 January 1890 – 11 June 1959) was a British obstetrician and a leading advocate of natural childbirth.

Early life and education[edit]

Grantly Dick-Read was born in Suffolk on 26 January 1890, the son of a Norfolk miller and the sixth of seven children. Educated at Bishop's Stortford College and Cambridge, he was an excellent athlete and horseman. He received his medical training at the London Hospital, Whitechapel, where he qualified as a physician in 1914.[1]

Career and work[edit]

During World War I, Dick-Read served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was badly wounded at Gallipoli but later served in France. When the war ended, he returned to the London Hospital for a year and then completed an MD at Cambridge.[1]

In the early 1920s, he worked at a clinic in Woking and it became very popular. Dick-Read specialised in childbirth and care, observing and writing up case histories and notes. He published his first book Natural Childbirth in 1933. Dick-Read's ideas were at first ridiculed, and he was expelled from the London clinic he had set up with a group of fellow obstetricians. When the Woking partnership was dissolved in 1934, Dick-Read set up a private clinic at 25 Harley Street.

His second book, Revelation of Childbirth (which was later retitled Childbirth without Fear), was published in 1942, and aimed at a general readership. It became an international bestseller, and it is still in print. Dick-Read was invited to give lecture tours all over the world.

He moved to South Africa in 1948, observed traditional African births and reinforced his faith in these methods. In 1953 he returned to England and continued to lecture and write.

In 1956 the UK Natural Childbirth Association, now called the National Childbirth Trust, was founded. It became the foremost charity concerned with birth and early parenthood. Grantly Dick-Read was its first president. In 1957, a phonograph album featuring Dick-Read and entitled Natural Childbirth: A Documentary Record of the Birth of a Baby was released by Argo Records in the UK and Westminster Records in the US. It is still available as a CD from Pinter & Martin.

He died on 11 June 1959 aged 69 in Wroxham, Norfolk, at a riverside home that previously had been owned by the UK ukelele entertainer George Formby. A memorial plaque on Dick-Read's former clinic at 25 Harley Street was unveiled on 11 June 1992.[2]

See also[edit]