Robert Havard

From Tolkien Gateway
Robert Havard
Biographical information
Born15 March 1901
Died17 July 1985
EducationKeble College
Queen's College
"Dr U.Q. Humphrey
Made poultices of comfrey
If you didn't pay his bills
He gave you doses of squills
J.R.R. Tolkien[1]

Dr. Robert Emlyn "Honest Humphrey" Havard was an Oxford-schooled physician. He was one of the Inklings, as well as a neighbour of J.R.R. Tolkien in his later life.

History[edit | edit source]

Havard was the son of an Anglican clergyman, and read Chemistry at Keble College,[2] followed by Medicine at Queen's College after a conversion to Catholicism ruled him out of attending the former.[3] After his studies, he worked in Leeds, where he married. He returned to Oxford in 1934.[2] He took over a medical practice with surgeries in Headington and St. Giles;[2] the latter was situated near the Eagle and Child.[4]

One of his patients was C.S. Lewis. It was Lewis who introduced Havard to the Inklings after a boat trip, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Warren Lewis had bought a small boat, the Bosphorus, and the Lewis brothers planned a trip along the Thames with Hugo Dyson. The international political tension had Warren - a Major in the Royal Army Service Corps - transferred to Le Havre, and because the others did not want to cancel the trip, C.S. Lewis decided to bring his good friend Dr. Havard along as navigator. They had a pleasant time, as the trip went past the towns Godstow, Newbridge, Radcot, Lechlade and Inglesham - and naturally, the Inns. It was slightly overshadowed by the invasion of Poland, but after another dinner with Lewis and Dyson, Havard was introduced to the Inklings.[5] So, Havard also became the Tolkien family's doctor, having been asked by the Professor shortly after his introduction to the Inklings.[6] He became an appreciated family friend - as he was with the Lewis family, and often attended Thursday pub visits. He often drove the Inklings to country pubs.[7]

In 1943, Havard was called up for service in the Royal Navy, were he served as a medical officer. On his rare leaves, he came back to Oxford, now sporting a full red beard. This earned him the nickname The Red Admiral, to go along with his already existing nicknames Useless Quack and Honest Humphrey,[1] the latter courtesy of Hugo Dyson when he could not remember the doctor's name.[4] Tolkien managed to get Havard stationed at Oxford permanently, and he was put to work on a malaria research project.[1] Back in Oxford, Havard was among the first to read the outlines of what would become The Lord of the Rings,[8] and still a respected (though not very productive) member of the Inklings.

Tolkien became a close neighbour of Havard when he moved to 76 Sandfield Road: Havard, now a widower with five children,[2] lived at number 28.[9] They regularly attended church together, and with the Inklings fallen apart, Havard was the last of Tolkien's male companies.[10]

In 1968, Havard retired from the medical profession. He moved to the Isle of Wight and lost most contact with Tolkien, though he did visit him at Woodridings at least twice.[3] He died in 1985.[6]

In Tolkien's works[edit | edit source]

In The Notion Club Papers, Robert Havard is identified with Rupert Dolbear, a researchchemist "known to the Club as Ruthless Rufus".[11]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]


The Inklings
J.R.R. Tolkien · Owen Barfield · J.A.W. Bennett · Lord David Cecil · Nevill Coghill · James Dundas-Grant · Hugo Dyson · Adam Fox · Colin Hardie · Robert Havard · C.S. Lewis · Warren Lewis · Gervase Mathew · R.B. McCallum · C.E. Stevens · Christopher Tolkien · John Wain · Charles Williams · Charles Leslie Wrenn