Llewelyn Ralph Twentyman 1914 – 2010

Llewelyn Ralph Twentyman 1914 – 2010 MB BCh Cambridge 1943, LRCP London 1943, MRCS England, FFHom 1959, was an English orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become a Physician at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital, member of the Faculty of Homeopathy. Ralph Twentyman was the Editor of the British Homoeopathic Journal (now known as Homeopathy), the Journal of the Faculty of Homeopathy, for 21 years, and Trustee and Vice President of the Camphill Movement until his death.

Ralph Twentyman was liberal in his attitudes to lay homeopaths and mixed freely with them during the 1960s and 1970s.

The history of homoeopathy… resembles much too much the history of religion with its conflicts between orthodoxy and heresy. So often the heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.” (Twentyman, 1978, p.1)

‘Matter, Matter never without Spirit’

Twentyman taught Anthony CampbellJune Burger, Lia BelloDouglas Medlicott Gibson, and he was a close friend of Dimitrije Mitrinovic and Karl Koenig, and also of John Robertson Raeside,

Twentyman also practiced at 122 Harley London W1, and he lived at 4 The Terrace, Richmond ?ill, Surrey, and at Willoughby, Dale Road, Forest Row, Est Sussex RH11 5BP,

Ralph Twentyman trained at Cambridge and University College Hospital, and later served in the RAF medical service in Habbaniya, Iraq. After release from the RAF, he trained in homeopathy at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and was appointed to the staff as Consultant Physician. There he introduced the mistletoe treatment of cancer as suggested by Rudolf Steiner, and viewed anthroposophic methods as a valid extension of Samuel Hahnemann’s homeopathic approach. Twentyman edited the British Journal of Homeopathy for twenty-one years and has lectured extensively.

Twentyman was also a member of The New Atlantis Foundation, founded by Dimitrije Mitrinovic, and as a member of Dimitrije Mitrinovic‘s intimate circle, Twentyman was interviewed several times by authors writing books on Dimitrije Mitrinovic, and for New Atlantis magazine. Twentyman met Dimitrije Mitrinovic when was a member of a group who met under the auspices of The New Europe Group, an association he made as a young man before he went to Iraq, and where he was introduced to the ideas of Rudolf Steiner,

The Missionary School of Medicine at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital teaching staff included doctors experienced in tropical medicine and other specialities.

The Annual Reports list the teaching staff, many of whom are recognised for their contributions to the development of homeopathyDonald MacDonald Foubister lectured on Children’s Diseases, as did Kathleen Priestman (who was President of the MSM between 1981 and 1991); Alva Benjamin taught on skin diseases, Charles Edwin WheelerJohn MacKillop and Muriel Francis Adams on general medicine; William Eldon Tucker and Philip Norman Cutner on surgery and H Dodd, who was the vascular surgeon and later became President of MSM in 1952.

N E Gillham taught dentistry and J N LeRossignol chiropody. Three doctors on the teaching staff were later appointed Royal physicians: John Weir, Margery Grace Blackie and Ronald W Davey. Ralph Twentyman remains the doyen of them all, surviving to tell the tale of the lectures often given in the Hospital Board Room, which were much enjoyed by everyone.

Twentyman’s funeral was on 29.4.2010 conducted by the Christian Community, and his Obituary was in The Sunday Times on 4.5.2010 as follows:

Llewelyn Ralph peacefully at home on 29th April 2010, aged 95. Former Consultant at the Royal Homeopathic Hospital. Beloved husband of Annelise, Father of Alexander, Elizabeth, Philip and Orion; step-father of Susan, Mark, Dominic and Nicholas *Raeside and much loved grandfather and great-grandfather. Christian Community funeral has taken place. A Memorial Meeting will be held at Michael Hall School, Forest Row at 8pm on 14th May to which all those who wish to remember Ralph are invited.

*John Robertson Raeside was a Scottish homeopath working at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital who died in the Staines plane crash in 1972.

The Newsletter of the Anthroposophical Society of Great Britain also published an Obituary on Twentyman, written by Michael Keintzler and Anneli Twentyman:

Ralph Twentyman was born into a wealthy family just before the outbreak of the Great War (6.6.1914). His father, a businessman living in Wolverhampton, had one of the first motor cars in the area. He was also a great teaser. His mother, both artistic and musical, told wonderfully imaginative stories to her children.

Growing up in the country with loving parents, (and even a jolly butler), Ralph had an idyllic childhood. He was rather a shy boy who disliked parties, needing to withdraw from tie to time, he was often found hiding in the bushes.

Ralph was privately tutored until the age of nine when he went to preparatory school in Liphook. He still remembered the experiences he had there with gratitude in the last months of his life, such as the chapel service which nourished his early inner life.

Moving to Shrewsbury Public School at the age of 14 was a great challenge. Ralph felt very lonely at first but soon became the best of friends with one particular boy. Then one day in the holidays, while at a party, he overheard that his friend had been tragically killed in a shooting accident near his house. This was a deep shock for the sensitive child. It created a deep scar in his early life – as if he had fallen from paradise.

Sometime after this he struck up a friendship with an older boy called Harry Rutherford, whilst in the school infirmary where both were ill. He helped Ralph to stand the strain of shock and both of them discussed for hours what the world should be like.

Ralph was a very good scholar and received a scholarship to Cambridge in his last year at school. His chemistry teacher had asked each boy what their vocational plans were. Ralph was terrified because he didn’t have a clue. When the tacher came to him, he said ‘and you are going to be a doctor’. And that was that. Destiny had spoken.

But medical school in Cambridge did not satisfy Ralph. He felt that the human aspect in the research was lacking. So he interrupted his studies and went to London where he became a follower of Dimitrije Mitrinovic who became his spiritual mentor. Dimitrije Mitrinovic was secretary of the New Europe Group and later started The New Atlantis Foundation which continued after he died.

This group of young intellectuals was particularly interested in literature, mythology, the social questions and the psychology of Sigmund Freud, Adler and Carl Gustav Jung. It was Dimitrije Mitrinovic who introduced Ralph to Anthroscopy and who remained a fatherly friend until his death in 1953.

Meanwhile Ralph had returned to Cambridge for his doctorate and after taking his degree, was appointed House Physician, Casual Medical Officer and Medical Registrar at University College Hospital, London.

In 1939 he married Jean Rutherford, the sister of his friend Harry and they had three children – Alex, Elizabeth and Philip. During WWII he was part of the RAF Medical Service and was posted to Cairo and later Iraq as Chief Medical Officer. Returning in 1947, his marriage broke down, as did many at that time. He was left with the care of his three little ones and felt absolutely destitute. His close friends gave much needed support.

It was probably his all prevailing humour, so much part of his personality, that helped him to tackle life again. He would later use this humour, together with his empathy and deep interest in his fellow human beings, as a therapeutic tool to help his patients.

His second marriage in 1949 was to Jean Grizzy, an ophthalmologist and they had a son, Orion. She lovingly brought up all four children.

Ralph became interested in homeopathy and graduated as ‘Fellow Member’ from the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. He became a consultant there. Dimitrije Mitrinovic also introduced him to Karl Koenig which led to a fruitful working relationship and friendship. Ralph was a Trustee and Vice President of the Camphill Movement until his death.

Karl Koenig had also introduced him to two prominent researchers of Anthroposophical Medicine, Dr. Leroi and Dr. Kaelin who were pioneering the mistletoe treatment for cancer (proposed and indicated by Rudolf Steiner) in Arlesheim, Switzerland. Ralph atended all the annual cancer conferences there. This opened up a whole new world of understanding about the human being.

Ralph had struggled greatly with the reductionist approach of modern medicine. Now he had found ways of answering his questions regarding psychosomatic phenomena through anthroposophical medicine and the understanding of the human being, relating the soul functions of thinking, feeling and willing – to the nerve sense process, the rhythmic process and the metabolic limb process, respectively.

Ralph was a very clear, sharp thinker and the old maxim ‘Matter, Matter never without Spirit’ is a most fitting motto for his lifelong striving for knowledge and deeper understanding of the world. He aso became the first physician in this country to carry out the ‘crystallisation tests’ in his practice in Harley Street. In 1958 he was asked to take on the editorship of the British Journal of Homeopathy which he then carried for 21 years until his retirement.

In 1956, Ralph met John Robertson Raeside, a colleague at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. They became great friends and mutually introduced an anthroposophical medical approach to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. Ralph also discussed his research with priests of the Christian Community at study groups about the ‘Pastoral Medical course’ of Rudolf Steiner which he hosted.

Destiny again intervened when Ralph and Grizzy escaped death in 1972 when there was an international homeopathic conference in Brussels. John Robertson Raeside and Grizzy were going to attend. However, Grizzy decided at the las minute that she wanted to go to Bruges with Ralph before the conference and so they rebooked their flight. When they arrived at the conference, the found that John Robertson Raeside, their friends, colleagues and many other promising doctors and health professionals had died in a plane crash. There were no survivors. It was Ralph’s task to give the address in memory of all who were killed in this tragedy which had affected him deeply. Indeed, this event and his words are still remembered by many today. Three years later Grizzy died.

In 1979, with his retirement, a new phase of life began. Ralph and Anneli Raeside, John Robertson Raeside‘s widow, married and moved to Forest Row. Together they crested a beautiful garden. Ralph especially loved tending the roses with the same intense observation, peace and profound care with which he had treated his patients. For 15 years Ralph gave weekly medical lectures at Tobias School of Art and often at other British anthroposophical institutions too. His talks were spontaneous creations (without notes) and brought the subject to life with colourful imagery. Students have remarked how they made a life long impression on them.

He also travelled the world to lecture in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Japan, as well as Denmark and Ireland. He was always accompanied by Anneli who gave workshops at the same events. During these years he also wrote two books, so ‘bringing in’ the harvest of his life and work. The science and art of healing was published in 1989 and his second Medicine, mythology and spirituality: recollecting the past and willing the future in 2004 at the age of 90.

Ralph was a fervent reader and had a tremendous library. He especially loved Shakespeare, followed by ancient Greek drama, the novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky (for their celebration of life in the face of adversity) and the work of Vladimir Solovyov, to name a few.

Up until his very last weeks and days, Ralph Twentyman remained a sharp witted partner in discussions and deep conversations, a striving but humorous anthroposophist who adeptly appealed to both the light and serious sides of people and a great human being to have known.

On the day he passed away (29.4.2010), at around lunchtime, he said farewell to his wife in a clear but non verbal way. He wanted to die alone. When she came back into the room he had already crossed the threshold.

During the wake in the Chapel of Rest at The Christian Community in Forest Row the countenance of Ralph Twentyman revealed the theme of his life, the working of the Spirit in Matter.

Twentyman’s Obituary is in Homeopathy. 2011 Jan-Apr;100(1-2):103-5. Obituary. Llewelyn Ralph Twentyman: 6 June 1914-29 April 2010.

Twentyman wrote Medicine, mythology and spirituality: recollecting the past and willing the futureThe science and art of healing with a foreword by Owen Barfield, The impulse of Rudolf Steiner to a living science (New Atlantis Foundation;Lectures; 1962), Anthropo-Biology. Towards a system of the sciences (New Atlantis Foundation. Foundation Lecture. no. 2.), and articles The Evolutionary Significance of Samuel Hahnemann, British Homeopathic Journal No. 64, 1975, pp.144-5 and Editorial (The History of Homeopathy), British Homeopathic Journal 67, 1978, p.2,  and he wrote the preface to editions of The mystery of physical life By Elliot Lovegood Grant Watson (also has preface by Owen Barfield), and he lectured widely on many issues. Twentyman was also interviewed by the North American Society of Homeopaths in their Journal Volume 8, 2002-F. E. Boericke Issue.

5 thoughts on “Llewelyn Ralph Twentyman 1914 – 2010”

  1. Ralph Twentyman became a Life Member of the Swedenborg Society in about 2000. I met him once, just after Christmas 2005, when my wife and I went to his house at Forest Row to collect some scientific books by Swedenborg and by the 19th century Swedenborgian and homeopathic physician James John Garth Wilkinson. He received us courteously and took the books to our car in a wheel barrow down a steep, icy path. He loked a very fit man. We could not believe he was then 91. It was a pleasure to have met Ralph, albeit only fleetingly.

  2. Ralph Twentyman was editor of the British Homoeopathic Journal, not the Journal of Homeopathy. I was his Assistant Editor, working with him at the Harley Street and later Wimpole Street practices.
    Anna R. Meuss.

  3. I, along with my brother and sister, were children of parents in the New Europe Group. I think we had a difficult upbring in that we were often alone with our nanny because our parents were too busy and involved with the New Europe Group to give us much attention. We were frightened of Mr. Mitrinovic and hated having to visit him.

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