Biographical notes

Professor Arthur Cecil Alport

There is more detailed information about Cecil Alport’s career online:

These are a few notes about the man himself:

Cecil Alport was born on 25th January 1880 and brought-up in South Africa.  He did his medical training in Edinburgh.

While he was living in Edinburgh in the early years of the 20th century he started “walking out” with a girl from Dumfriesshire, Katherine McCall. But when, after he had finished his training, she invited him home to meet her family, he fell in love with her youngest sister, Janet.

Cecil and Janet were married soon after then Cecil went back to South Africa where he was to join a medical practice in Johannesburg.  Janet travelled out by herself to join him there and they were happily married, for over 50 years, until his death in 1959.

They had two sons, Arthur and Cuthbert.  Sadly, Arthur died of meningitis in 1908 when he was only two years old.  His father was devastated and, being convinced that his little son had contracted the illness at his christening, refused to allow the second baby anywhere near a church to be baptised.  Instead he searched until he was able to find a priest prepared to come to their home to christen the baby, using the bird bath as a font.

During World War 1 Cecil became an army doctor and served in Macedonia, Salonika and German South-West Africa.  He wrote a memoir of his war years called “The Lighter Side of the War” which shows his ability to find humour in the most unlikely places.

At the end of the Great War Cecil no longer had his practice in South Africa. So, with Janet and Cuthbert, he moved to the UK and he went to work at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London where he taught clinical medicine.

Cecil was an exact contemporary of Alexander Fleming (who discovered penicillin) and they both worked at St Mary’s Hospital.  According to Janet, one day as Cecil was walking past his laboratory Alexander Fleming put his head out of the door and said “Ah, Alport, come and have a look at this”.  It was the very beginning of penicillin.

In 1937, at Fleming’s suggestion, he went to Egypt to become professor of medicine at the King Fuad I Hospital, University of Cairo.  He was so horrified at the fraud, dishonesty and corruption there that he started to campaign for reform, and especially for improved living conditions for the Egyptian staff at the hospital.

He was an avid golfer though his enthusiasm was greater than his proficiency.

After he retired he and Janet spent a large part of each year in Cape Town, South Africa, returning to the UK for the British summer to see Cuthbert and his family.

Cecil died in St Mary’s, Paddington, of bone cancer on 18th April 1959.


Some photos from his time in Cairo, the last one is dated 1941

A. C Alport in court dress for the court of King Faud.

A. C. A.  with medical faculty in Cairo
A.C.A. relaxing on a beach.
A.C.A with a group of students