Dr. Halliday Sutherland

"Dr. Halliday Sutherland is a born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better” – G.K. Chesterton

“… innovative work fighting tuberculosis earned recognition”

Is it correct to assert that Sutherland’s work fighting tuberculosis was innovative?


Sutherland was the pupil and protégé of Sir Robert Philip (the originator of the “Edinburgh System” for the control and prevention of tuberculosis). An innovator, he produced Britain’s first health-education cinema film and started an Open-air school in the bandstand of Regent’s Park. (British Medical Journal, 1960)

The film was “The Story of John M’Neil”

The British Film Institute catalogue describes the film as a:

“Dramatized story of a Scottish family living in slum housing, illustrating how tuberculosis can be spread from one member of the family to another; and the treatment available.”

An article in The Times on 18th May 1937, mentioned the acquisition of the film by the National Film Library:

“Films have long been used for propaganda and education, and one of the earliest examples of this type of film must have been The Story of John M’Neil, produced in Edinburgh in 1911 by Dr. Halliday Sutherland. It describes the Edinburgh system of controlling tuberculosis, and the present copy is the gift of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis.”

Researchers can request to view the film at the British Film Institute (BFI). Given the age of the film, it would be prudent to enquire whether the film can be viewed before making the journey to the BFI. The BFI catalogue numbers are: C-642837; C163141;  C163142; C163143;  C163144.

There is a link to BFI Research Viewing Services here.

The Open Air School in Regent’s Park

Sutherland described the Open-Air school in his 1933 bestseller, The Arches of the Years.

You can:

Works Cited

British Medical Journal, 1960. Obituary: Halliday G. Sutherland M.D.. British Medical Journal, 30 April, Volume 1(5182), pp. 1368-9. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1967536/ on 1st July 2016.

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Centenary of the Stopes v. Sutherland libel trial

February 21st, 2023
5.2 years to go.