Wednesday, 12 March 2014
All of this was accomplished despite disadvantages that would stopped many another man dead. He had a serious stammer and a curious lack of sensory memory - which he self-diagnosed as a response to a major childhood trauma. Rivers lost his last year at school - and his chance of a Cambridge scholarship - to a bout of typhoid fever, but this merely caused him to switch track and qualify in medicine, which he did in double-quick time, graduating MD at the prodigiously early age of 22. Amazingly, in view of all his subsequent achievements, he was never really in good health and needed much sleep, sometimes for days on end. One of his biographers stated that for many years of his life he could only work for four hours a day. They must have been very special Rivers hours...
And it was a short life; he died at just 58, of a strangulated hernia, when he was about to stand for Parliament (in the Labour interest).
What's more, this remarkable man was by all accounts blessed with a personality so cordial and attractive that he inspired huge affection in all who crossed his path. No wonder Sassoon fell for him.