More About the Author
Well I've just seen what someone has written about me on Wikipedia and what Amazon has summarised on this author page for me. Historian, author, speaker, archivist, museum curator ... It pretty much sums my life up. So what else can I say?
I own up to having been Trust Archivist at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, since 1989, subsequently Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and Curator of the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum which I set up in 1993. It all sounds a long time ago but it seems like yesterday. I studied history at Hertford College, University of Oxford, and qualified as an archivist at University College, London. I have worked at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and also been archivist to a girls' school, a rare male member of staff not to be confused with the 'sixth form boyfriend', and to a film archive in my time.
Believe me, my biography of Alexander Fleming was ironically the book I had never planned to write as, on my appointment to set up an archives service at St Mary's Hospital, I had decided that I would avoid such a controversial subject. A vain hope and I was soon being cited as an authority on Fleming and the story of penicillin, so that was a spur to knowing even more and sharing that knowledge with the world. Once on the roll of writing, I then turned my attention to other areas of medical history ranging from the social history of syphilis to military and naval medicine. An interest in maritime history led to my latest book on the emigrant experience. I have now returned to the subject of naval medicine for "The Seasick Admiral: Nelson and the Health of the Navy".
I've also found myself in demand to give talks on the history of medicine. I have lectured widely at home, abroad and at sea, with audiences ranging from academic conferences, university departments and schools to after dinner speaking, after lunch talks, women's institutes and cruise ship passengers. I hope that I manage to amuse and entertain as well as inform my audiences and, yes, I do actually get invited back a second or more time by some groups, perhaps because I have a wide repertoire of talks or I go well with the menu.
I've enjoyed the gigs I've done in the United States starting with when I was the first historian to be, in 2001, the Andrew J. Moyer Lecturer at the United States Department of Agriculture National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research at Peoria, Illinois. National Tartan Day in Washington DC and a day of seminars, meetings and delivering a lecture at Johns Hopkins University bring back happy memories not to mention Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Rutgers even nominated me for a visiting professorship but that, sadly, never happened. Often I've combined lecturing opportunities with research trips to American archives and to meet North Americans who have made history. Writing about the US contribution to the development of penicillin, the Tuskegee Experiment and, most recently, immigration, I have enjoyed learning about a great country and sharing what I've learned. I've lost count of the number of US universities that have come to the Fleming Museum time after time and the groups from the States I have addressed;the leaders of many of those groups have become friends.
From 2001-2004, I was indeed Chairman of the London Museums of Health and Medicine, leading this network of medical museums in London at a time of change in the heritage world. A Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, I am a Freeman of the City of London. I am also Honorary Secretary and a Trustee of the registered charity St Mary's Hospital Association.
Despite all this diverse activity, I still manage to find time to enjoy the good life, though I don't know how I've done it. I don't like life to be dull!
Kevin can be contacted on Penicillin.Man@gmail.com