By Bernard Verdcourt
Prof. Friedrich Fülleborn born on September 13th. 1866 in Kulm an der Weichsel (then in West Prussia now in Poland, Chelmo on the Wista [Vistula]) collected a few molluscs in south Tanzania (then Deutsch Ost—Afrika) which were described by von Martens subsequent to his monumental ‘Beschalte Weichethiere Deutsch Ost—Afrikas’. After studying medicine and natural sciences at Berlin, Fülleborn undertook a journey to North America in 1894 under the auspices of the Royal Prussian Academy to carry out research into zoology and evolution. Between 1896 and 1910 he served as a military doctor with the German Army in Deutsch Ost—Afrika and during this period undertook a number of study trips in connection with research into tropical medicine. He served in the Herero War in South West Africa and was an early visitor to the London School of Tropical Medicine and a staunch admirer of the great Patrick Manson under whom he had studied in 1900–1901. It is clear therefore that he was not permanently in East Africa. During the First World War he was badly wounded at the front and later worked as a malaria expert on the Balkan Front.
He returned to England after the war to visit the shrine of Patrick Manson (and to enjoy a saddle of mutton at S……’s). He appears to have been somewhat of a bon viveur, an epicure and a connoiseur of art. He had visited most countries in Europe and America. He was one of the original founders of the &squo;Institut für Schiffs -und Tropenhygiene’ in Hamburg in 1901 and associated with it until his death; in July 1930 he was its Director and had been Prof. of Tropical Medicine at Hamburg since 1926, his eventual full title being Geh. Medizinalrat Prof. Dr. Fülleborn. Towards the end of his life he became very interested in parasitology and at the time of his death was one of the world’s greatest helminthologists with an international reputation. He was universally respected and beloved as a man and was a sympathetic friend. The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene had made him an Honorary Fellow.
It seems to me rather odd that such a man stationed in Africa off and on for 15 years (the same period of time I spent in East Africa myself) should have collected so few molluscs. I suspect he was encouraged to do so by either Stuhlmann or von Martens when it was known he was visiting an area where no material had been collected before. If he had had a deep personal interest in the group he would have obtained a great deal more.
I remember meeting Sir Philip Manson-Bahr (1881–1966) (he married Edith Margaret, daughter of Sir Patrick Manson in 1909) in Nairobi about 1960 or so and he telling me he was writing about Fülleborn. This was natural since they had much in common, both having served in the great war, both being great experts on tropical diseases and both ardent admirers of Sir Patrick Manson. I was able to give Manson-Bahr information about Fülleborn’s molluscan collections; it appears, however, that no biography was completed.
I am very grateful. to James Beaton, Assistant, Bibliographic Services and Modern Medicine Collection, The Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, for all the biographical information.
List of molluscs described from material collected by Prof. F. Fülleborn in southern Tanzania.
Cerastua bambuseti (von Mts.).
Rhachidina mozambicensis (Pfr.).
Gulella cruciata (von Mts.).
Zingis sesquicincta (von Mts.).
Halolimnohelix fuelleborni (von Mts.).
Halolimnohelix infrafusca (von Mts.).
Zingis sesquicincta (von Mts.).
Zingis aureofusca (von Mts.).