6th January 1981

Dr Finlay creator AJ Cronin dies

AJ Cronin was the doctor author behind the popular fictional character, Doctor Finlay. He was born in Cardross on 19 July 1896 and died in Montreux, Switzerland, on 6 January 1981, aged 84.

Cronin studied medicine at the University of Glasgow and graduated shortly after the end of the First World War. His studies had been interrupted by the confict, during which he had served as a surgeon. He only started writing books around a decade later, and authored his first, Hatter’s Castle, in 1930. It was sufficiently successful for him to give up his medical career and devote himself full-time to writing, and a new career as a novelist.

Cronin inspires the NHS

However, he didn’t turn his back entirely on the profession. One book in particular – The Citadel – exposed the way that private doctors were exploiting patients and it is said that it was influential in the formation of the National Health Service. On 29 December 1937, The Scotsman wrote that “it does not profess to have much artistic merit, but it has the qualities that guarantee popularity – narrative vigour, dramatic force in the creation of characters, and an undercurrent of revolt against selfishness and stupidity.” It was made into a highly successful film two years later.

Perhaps his most famous creation, though, was Doctor Finlay, who appeared in 1935’s Country Doctor, which was picked up by the BBC and spun out into 191 episodes across eight series between 1962 and 1971. It continued on radio until 1978. Although set in the fictional village of Tannochbrae, filming for many of the television episodes took place in Callander.



Other events that occured in January

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