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Archibald Joseph Cronin

Best known for this Dr Findlay series of novels, Archibald Joseph Cronin was a doctor, novelist, dramatist and writer. He was born in Cardross and lived for a time in Helensburgh. His father died of tuberculosis when he was seven, and he and his mother moved to Dumbarton. A.J. Cronin studied at Dumbarton Academy, where he excelled in writing and sport. His family later moved to Yorkhill in Glasgow, and he studied medicine at Glasgow University, where he met his wife Agnes.

During the First World War A.J. Cronin served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a Surgeon Sub-Lieutenant, and then trained at a number of hospitals in Scotland and Ireland. He moved to South Wales to take up his first medical practice in the mining town of Tredegar. In 1924, he was appointed Medical Inspector of Mines.

A.J. Cronin’s first brush with literary fame came with the publication of his debut novel Hatter’s Castle in 1931. He had taken time off work in 1930 after being diagnosed with a chronic ulcer, and used the rest and time to write. The success of Hatter’s Castle and his subsequent novels meant that he never returned to medical practice.

Many of his novels drew on his medical background, and his experiences working in the mining industry. The semi-autobiographical The Citadel has been credited with influencing the creation of the NHS, and many of his novels explored medical and religious ethics. The novella Country Doctor which introduce the character of Dr Finlay, the stories of which where dramatised by BBC TV in the 1960s, and again by STV in the 1990s. Many of his books where adapted for film, TV and radio.

In 1939 he and his family moved to the USA, living in many different states. Eventually he returned to Europe and spent the last 25 years of his life in Switzerland. He was godfather to Audrey Hepburn’s first son. Cronin died on 6 January 1981 in Montreux in Switzerland. Cronin continued to write into his eighties.

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