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Havard, Robert (1901-1985) | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Havard, Robert (1901-1985)

Historical Note:

Robert Emlyn Havard, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien’s physician and member of the Inklings, was born on March 15, 1901 in Lincolnshire to the family of Anglican Reverend John Emlyn Havard. Havard attended school near Birmingham throughout his childhood and received a First Class degree from Keble College in 1921. Shortly thereafter, Havard converted to Catholicism and was asked to leave Keble College, moving to Queen’s College in Oxford to receive his BM and B.Chem in 1927. Havard held a number of jobs throughout England, eventually becoming a professor in the Biochemistry department of Leeds University.

While in Leeds, Havard met Grace Mary Middleton, and the two were wed on December 29, 1931. At Leeds, they had their first of five children, John Edward Havard. The family moved to Oxford where Havard took over the practice of the late Dr. W. Wood in Headington and subsequently began to treat C.S. Lewis in 1934. The two became fast friends. During their first visit they discussed Jack’s influenza only briefly with the remainder of the time spent on “ethics and philosophy.” Lewis invited Havard to join the Inklings soon thereafter and Havard would become one of the most faithful members of the group, contributing his clinical knowledge, literary understanding, and automobile driving abilities.

Havard’s time as a member of the Inklings was briefly interrupted by his eighteen-month service in the Second World War, beginning in 1943 as a lieutenant surgeon in the Royal Navy Reserve. His service was cut short by his return to England to care for his wife Grace Mary, who fell ill with breast cancer. Havard had grown out a beard during his time at sea so red in hue that when he returned, the Inklings dubbed him “The Red Admiral.” This joined a host of other nicknames including The Useless Quack or the UQ (given by Warren H. Lewis) and, most common, Humphrey (given by Hugo Dyson, who could not remember Havard’s real name). Havard continued to attend the Inklings meetings while working as a private physician in Oxford and contributing to research surrounding the malaria medication Mepacrine. On September 10, 1950, Grace Mary (Middleton) Havard passed away, leaving Dr. Havard with five children to raise on his own. Havard retired in 1968, and later moved to a home for the aged called Down House on the Isle of Wight. He passed away on July 17, 1985.

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