Arthur Rainsford Mowlem (1902-1986), plastic surgeon

J Med Biogr. 2013 Aug;21(3):180-92. doi: 10.1177/0967772013479735. Epub 2013 Jul 4.


Arthur Rainsford Mowlem, the junior of the 'big four' plastic surgeons, with Harold Delf Gillies, Thomas Pomfret Kilner and Archibald Hector McIndoe, came to prominence managing casualties of the Second World War. Rainsford Mowlem's ancestor was John Mowlem, the creator of the construction firm. Rainsford worked his passage to the United Kingdom from New Zealand in 1927 and did not return to New Zealand but retired at the age of 60 to enjoy 23 more years in Spain. He was the driving force between 1934 and 1939 at the Plastic Surgery Unit at St James's Hospital, Balham, and instigated the North London Plastic Surgery Unit at Hill End, St Albans, from 1939 to 1953 and subsequently developed the Unit after moving to Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, Middlesex. After successfully hosting the International Meeting of Plastic Surgeons in London in 1959, he received recognition and honours in America but soon afterwards he surprised colleagues by retiring in 1962. Despite his significant contributions, he did not receive national honours but his life outside surgery was active including Trusteeship of the Mowlem Estate at Swanage in Dorset for 40 years.

Keywords: Development of plastic surgery in the United Kingdom; World War II; the New Zealand Surgical Influence.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Dupuytren Contracture / history
  • Dupuytren Contracture / surgery
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New Zealand
  • Surgery, Plastic / history*
  • United Kingdom
  • World War II

Personal name as subject

  • Arthur Rainsford Mowlem