Laurence O'Shaughnessy studied medicine at the University of Durham and in Berlin,
and was the winner of four scholarships.
At the age of twenty-six he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.


From 1933 to 1935 Laurence was Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons
and was at the forefront of research on heart disease and tuberculosis.
In 1936 he founded a clinic at Lambeth Hospital for the treatment of cardiovascular disease,
and also became the consultant surgeon to the Preston Hall tuberculosis sanatorium -
which was an advanced centre of research and treatment operated by the British Legion.
He gave lectures on his work to scientists in France, Germany and the United States,
and he was co-author of two influential textbooks -
Thoracic Surgery (1937) and Pulmonary Tuberculosis:
Pathology, Diagnosis, Management and Prevention (1938).
The astonishing thing about all this work is that
it was done before he was forty.

To Orwell Today,

Dear Ms Jackie Jura,

We are in the process of writing a little paper on some of the giants in cardiothoracic surgery, amongst others, Laurence (aka Eric) O'Shaughnessy, George Orwell's brother-in-law. In particular, we are interested in the circumstances surrounding his death.

By chance I landed on your wonderful website ORWELL BROTHER-IN-LAW DIED AT DUNKIRK where a certain Richard McNab wrote:

"I was interested to read your webpage ORWELL'S TB DOC O'SHAUGHNESSY...Laurence O'Shaughnessy was killed in May 1940, during the Dunkirk evacuation. (George Orwell later wrote in his diary of his vain search for Laurence as the trains carrying evacuees arrived back in London.) And it wasn't a stray bullet that killed him: he was in a house that received a direct hit from a bomb. My father, who was with him, survived and left a graphic description of O'Shaughnessy's death in his diary."

I would be most grateful if you could provide me with a contact (e-mail) address of Richard McNab.

Yours sincerely,
Jan J van Wingerden, FCS

Greetings Jan,

Yes, I'm more than happy to connect you with Richard McNab -- I'll forward your email to him today and hopefully he will contact you STAT!

It was in March 2012 that McNab emailed ORWELL TODAY about his father's connection to Orwell's brother-in-law -- Doctor Laurence O'Shaughnessy -- and how he was with him when he died.

It would be fascinating to learn what happened -- and I hope one day McNab will share his father's diary entry.

It's godcidental that Laurence O'Shaughnessy was part of Orwell's life -- and I wishfully think that had O'Shaughnessy lived longer, Orwell would have lived longer too. Perhaps Doc O'Shaughnessy would have known about the streptomycin cure before the docs up in the Glasgow sanatorium -- and Orwell would have been administered it earlier, and at the proper dosage for him.

Or maybe Orwell wouldn't even have been that sick by then -- his brother-in-law would have probably nipped that TB in the bud before it got so far out of hand.

Doc O'Shaughnessy sounds like a wonderful person from all the reading I've done about him. He was, as you say, a GIANT in his field.


Her brother's death was a massive blow to Orwell's wife, Eileen -- and many people think she never fully recovered from the sorrow. Perhaps that stress -- and living in London during the war -- contributed to her developing the cancer that led to her early death during the operation to remove it.

I think it's fantastic that you fellow cardiothoracic surgeons will be honouring Laurence O'Shaughnessy and putting him down in history for his contributions toward the advancement of mankind -- above and beyond being Orwell's brother-in-law.

All the best,
Jackie Jura



ORWELL'S TB DOC O'SHAUGHNESSY (...As the consultant surgeon at the Preston Hall sanatorium, Laurence O'Shaughnessy visited Orwell once each week and made every effort to determine whether his brother-in-law was, in fact, suffering from tuberculosis. Dr Arnold Bentley, the physician who preserved Orwell's file at Preston Hall, and who made it available for this biography, believed that 'quite searching and for the time adequate investigations' were made at Preston Hall to detect any sign of tubercle bacilli in Orwell's lungs. If Dr O'Shaughnessy could not make the diagnosis, then it is doubtful that any other lung specialist of the time could have proved otherwise. At the very time that he was attending his brother-in-law, the doctor was in the middle of writing, with two other men, an authoritative textbook on the disease....)

OrwellGreenwichHouse Laurence O'Shaugnessy's house at 24 Crooms Hill, Greenwich Park, London (That's where Orwell's wife, Eileen, was living in 1935 when Orwell met her at a party given by his landlady in Hampstead. Orwell lived there for many weeks over the years when he and Eileen were in London). See ORWELL'S BOOKLOVER'S CORNER and ORWELL'S 77 PARLIAMENT HILL

OrwellMarriageCertificate Orwell's Marriage Certificate showing Eileen's address as 24 Crooms Hill. Her father's name was Laurence O'Shaughnessy after whom her brother was named, but he went by his middle name of Eric

WallingtonChurch ChurchAltarWindow VISITING ORWELL'S WEDDING CHURCH On June 9th, 1936 Eric Arthur Blair married Eileen Maud O'Shaughnessy in St. Mary's Church in Wallington, Hertfordshire. He was 33 and she was 30. Eileen died nine years later on March 29th, 1945, and was buried on April 3, 1945. No doubt, in cryptic remembrance of her, Orwell had Winston Smith, the hero of "1984", begin his diary on April 4th. And godcidently it was almost exactly thirteen years later, on June 8, 1949, that "1984" was published.

Greetings again Jan,

Richard McNab sent a message saying he is happy to reply and will contact you.

He's just about completed his work on his father's diary and hopes to publish it within the next few months.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

To Orwell Today,

Thank you, Jackie!

Kind regards,

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~