Maurice O'Connor Drury

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Con Drury, probably photographed by Wittgenstein when he visited Dublin in 1936.

Maurice O'Connor Drury (known as 'Con Drury' to his friends) (3 July 1907 – 25 December 1976) was a psychiatrist and follower of Ludwig Wittgenstein born in Marlborough, Wiltshire, England of Irish parents. He grew up in Exeter, Devon, England, where his father, Henry D'Olier Drury, who had been a teacher in Marlborough college, retired.[1]


Drury was educated at Exeter Grammar School. He then studied philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge. His tutors included G. E. Moore, C. D. Broad and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Drury became Wittgenstein's friend for many years to come, until the latter's death in 1951.[1]

After graduation Drury entered the Cambridge theological college Westcott House, leaving after one year. He then enrolled in the medical school in Trinity College Dublin, graduating in 1939.[1]

Medical career[edit]

Drury joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in Egypt and taking part in the Normandy landings. After his demobilisation, Drury worked as a House Physician in a hospital in Taunton.[2] In 1947 he was appointed Resident Psychiatrist at St Patrick's Hospital Dublin.[1] From 1951 he also worked in a subsidiary nursing home, St Edmundbury, Lucan, Dublin. He lectured medical students on psychology in Trinity College and the Royal College of Surgeons. He is described as relating to his student audience as "quite an intellectual man, who was very much speaking and relating to an audience as an intellectual." [2] He was promoted to Senior Consultant Psychiatrist in 1969. In 1970 due to anginal pain he moved to a private residence in Dublin.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He married the matron of St Patrick's Hospital, Eileen Herbert, in 1951.[1] One of his children, Luke Drury a physicist, was elected president of the Royal Irish Academy in 2011.[3]


Drury was the author of "The danger of words and writings on Wittgenstein" [4](also published as "The Danger of Words"[5] and, in French, as "Conversations avec Ludwig Wittgenstein" [6] as translated by Jean-Pierre Comettias). A volume collecting many of his writings has been edited by John Hayes and published by Bloomsbury in 2017.[7] His papers are on deposit in the library of Mary Immaculate College Limerick.[8]


Drury's book, "The Danger of Words" has been described by Ray Monk as 'the most truly Wittgensteinian book published by any of Wittgenstein's students'.[9] Drury brought Wittgenstein's "critique of language" to bear on the practice of medicine, and particularly psychology that promised the same control over the mind that physics achieved with matter. This promise, pointed out Drury, was one where the delivery date was always being pushed into the future.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Hayes, John (2005). "Drury, Maurice O'Connor (1907–76)". The Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers. Thoemmes Continuum. doi:10.5040/9781350052437-0088. ISBN 9781350052437.
  3. ^ "TCD Physicist Elected President of the Royal Irish Academy". Trinity News and Events. 2011-03-18. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  4. ^ "The Danger Of Words And Writings on Wittgenstein". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  5. ^ "The Danger of Words : Maurice O'Connor Drury : 9781855064904". Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  6. ^ "Conversations avec Ludwig Wittgenstein". Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  7. ^ "The Selected Writings of Maurice O'Connor Drury". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  8. ^ "Drury Archive Gifted to Mary Immaculate College". 2018-03-23. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  9. ^ Monk, Ray. (1991). Ludwig Wittgenstein : the duty of genius. London: Vintage. p. 264. ISBN 0099883708. OCLC 877368486.

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