GP book photos return to St Briavels after 50 years

GP interview with John BergerImage copyright Collection Musee de l’Elysee
Image caption The book’s author John Berger interviews Dr John Eskell

Photos from a controversial book about a GP practice are on show for the first time in the village where they were taken more than 50 years ago.

Jean Mohr photographed people in St Briavels, in the Forest of Dean, for “A Fortunate Man” in 1967.

The doctor and patients involved were anonymised but the News of the World revealed the village and GP’s identity in a “sensational” article.

The exhibition runs at St Briavels Assembly Rooms on Saturday and Sunday.

The newspaper described the book as a “revealing, intimate” portrait of a GP’s life in “a remote country community”.

Image copyright News of the World
Image caption An article in the News of the World from 21 May 1967 raised the profile of the book locally

Jason Griffiths, from Reading the Forest, said: “It was the News of the World article that really brought the book to local people’s attention.

“It certainly did its best to sensationalise the book, and probably raised its profile more locally.”

The book, which is still in print, was to become a training aid for doctors on the GP/patient relationship in rural communities.

Its author John Berger and Swiss photojournalist Mr Mohr followed Dr Eskell at work with his patients and in his involvement with life in the village.

Some St Briavels residents can remember Mr Mohr working so quietly in the background they can hardly remember the photographs being taken.

Image copyright Collection Musee de l’Elysee
Image caption John Berger and Jean Mohr worked together on several books including A Fortunate Man

Local farmer Brychan Gretton said: “I remember Dr Eskell brought two friends of his.

“I thought they were both from abroad and they asked if they could photograph the family.

“We loved the doctor and agreed to help him. A few months later the doctor returned with some prints sent from Switzerland and they are still here in our living room.

“We did not know the pictures would be in a book until it was published.”

Image copyright Reading the Forest
Image caption Brychan Gretton, now 92, holds the photo of himself as a young man, taken in 1967 by Jean Mohr

Ivy Gunter, now in her 90s, said: “I thought he was there to do with the medical side of things so it was a surprise to me when I read the book. Dr Eskell apologised to me about it after.”

The photographs are on loan from the Musee de l’Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Image copyright Reading the Forest
Image caption Ivy Gunter said she did not know the photos would be published in a book

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