David Mendel (1922–2007) was born in East London. He was a poor student and applied to medical school on a whim after discovering that he wasn’t suited for his father’s millinery business. He contracted tuberculosis while at his first hospital job and was confined to bed for six months, after which he spent time as a ship’s doctor. In 1960 he was hired by St. Thomas’s Hospital, London, where he would stay for more than two decades, working as a senior lecturer and a specialist in cardiology. During these years he wrote the well-regarded textbook The Practice of Cardiac Catheterisation
and acquired a reputation as a popular and lively teacher. Mendel retired from medicine in 1986, moving to a cottage in Kent with his wife, Margaret, and earning a degree in Italian from the University of Kent. From then until his death he occupied himself playing the flute, building furniture, and publishing essays on Italian subjects, particularly about his friend, the chemist and writer Primo Levi.