Darrell Sheldon Wilkinson, 1919 – 2009
Darrell Sheldon Wilkinson was a leading figure in world dermatology for over 50 years and was one of the great dermatologists of our time.
Darrel was educated at Epson College, where he studied classics, after he obtained a scholarship to study medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital. During the second world war he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and Special Operations Executive. He returned to St Thomas’ Hospital to undertake specialty in dermatology training under Geoffrey Dowling and Hugh Wallace. In 1947 he was appointed as a consultant dermatologist at Hitchin Hospital and at Epsom, Farnham and Guildford hospitals. He then became a consultant dermatologist at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey and to the Aylesbury and High Wycombe hospitals, where he worked until his retirement from the NHS in 1981.
With Arthur Rook and Eric Waddington, he established a journal club at George, later to become the Dowling Club, which is now one of the leading associations in the training of young British dermatologists. He described various clinical entities such as Sneddon subcorneal pustular dermatosis (“Sneddon-Wilkinson disease”), perioral dermatitis, dequalinum balanitis, forefoot eczema, ‘black heel’ and ‘Chiltern chaps’ and with Church, necrolytic migratory erythema with the glucagonoma syndrome. He reported the first case of photocontact dermatitis (from tetrachlorosalicylanide).
In 1958 he published the first edition of “The Nursing and Management of Skin Diseases” which ran to four editions. In 1968 he co-edited the first edition of the “Textbook of Dermatology” with Arthur Rook and John Ebling and was involved in three more editions until 1986. This book remains one of the major textbooks in dermatology. He was active in founding the International Foundation for Dermatology in 1987 which, through the centre in Moshi, Tanzania has done much to provide dermatology training for many African countries. He had a great interest in contact dermatitis and was a founding member of the International Contact Dermatitis Research Group in 1967, which greatly clarified and classified contact and environmental dermatoses. In 1977 he was invited to join the International Committee of Dermatology as the UK representative. He conceived the International Foundation for Dermatology (IFD) which became official at the 1987 World Congress of Dermatology in Berlin. Darrell was President of the St John’s Dermatology Society from 1966 to 1967, President of the Section of Dermatology at the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) in 1981, President of the British Association of Dermatologist (BAD) in 1983 and received the BAD’s highest award, the Sir Archibald Gray Medal in 1986. He became a Fellow of the RSM in 1996 and at the 1997 World Congress of Dermatology in Sydney received the International League of Dermatological Societies Bronze Medal. He was an honorary member of 16 national dermatology associations. In 2000 he encouraged the establishment of the BAD historical collection and is remembered by the Darrell Wilkinson Prize, which is awarded each year to the best historical poster at the BAD meeting.
Suzana Ljubojevic Hadzavdic