Alexander Fleming

96

Alexander Fleming : biography

6 August 1881 – 11 March 1955

Personal life

The popular storye.g., Philadelphia Enquirer, 17 July 1945: Brown, Penicillin Man, note 43 to Chapter 2 of Winston Churchill’s father paying for Fleming’s education after Fleming’s father saved young Winston from death is false. According to the biography, Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution by Kevin Brown, Alexander Fleming, in a letter14 November 1945; British Library Additional Manuscripts 56115: Brown, Penicillin Man, note 44 to Chapter 2 to his friend and colleague Andre Gratia,see Wikipedia Discovery of penicillin article entry for 1920 described this as "A wondrous fable." Nor did he save Winston Churchill himself during World War II. Churchill was saved by Lord Moran, using sulphonamides, since he had no experience with penicillin, when Churchill fell ill in Carthage in Tunisia in 1943. The Daily Telegraph and the Morning Post on 21 December 1943 wrote that he had been saved by penicillin. He was saved by the new sulphonamide drug, Sulphapyridine, known at the time under the research code M&B 693, discovered and produced by May & Baker Ltd, Dagenham, Essex – a subsidiary of the French group Rhône-Poulenc. In a subsequent radio broadcast, Churchill referred to the new drug as "This admirable M&B."A History of May & Baker 1834–1984, Alden Press 1984. It is highly probable that the correct information about the sulphonamide did not reach the newspapers because, since the original sulphonamide antibacterial, Prontosil, had been a discovery by the German laboratory Bayer, and as Britain was at war with Germany at the time, it was thought better to raise British morale by associating Churchill’s cure with the British discovery, penicillin.

Fleming’s first wife, Sarah, died in 1949. Their only child, Robert Fleming, became a general medical practitioner. After Sarah’s death, Fleming married Dr. Amalia Koutsouri-Vourekas, a Greek colleague at St. Mary’s, on 9 April 1953; she died in 1986.

Death

In 1955, Fleming died at his home in London of a heart attack. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.