Tony Gould

Born: 1938

Occupation: Author

Challenges overcome: Polio

Successes, Achievements & Awards:

Born in 1938, Tony Gould is an author, radio producer and former officer in the Ghurkhas. Whilst doing his national service in the 7th Ghurkha Rifles, Tony served in Malaya, India and Hong Kong before being discharged from the army due to his polio.

After adjusting to life outside of the army, Tony went back into education and read English at Cambridge, as well as studying Hindi at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, before moving on to part time teaching near his hometown of Devon. Tony then went on to become a radio producer at the BBC for several years. Between 1975 and 1990, Tony worked as books editor at ‘New Society’, and then at the ‘New Statesman and Society’.

Tony has produced a number of books as an author, including ‘Inside Outsider: The Life and Time of Colin MacInnes’, from 1983, which won Tony the 1984 PEN Silver Pen Award.

Tony has written about polio and keeps well connected to the polio community. His book, ‘A Summer Plague: Polio and its Survivors’, is one the most comprehensive books on Polio and covers social, political and clinical areas of the history of Polio both in England and America. Tony received a Francis Head Fund grant from the Society of Authors, a Travel grant from the Wellcome Trust and the Sidney J Weinberg research fellowship from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute to help his research and writing of the book.

Tony is married with three grown up children.

Challenges Overcome

Whilst completing his national service with the Ghurkhas in Hong Kong in April 1959, Tony contracted the poliovirus. He was transferred to an iron lung for a month, before being weaned off and flown back home to England via Singapore. Back in England, Tony was taken to a military hospital and given months of intense physical therapy to help him to walk again. With a calliper fitted on his weaker leg and crutches, Tony was able to walk, and later able to walk with just one stick. Twenty years later, Tony began walking without his calliper and just had two sticks which he preferred.

Disability Definitions


Poliomyelitis often called polio or infantile paralysis is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. Approximately 90% to 95% of infections cause no symptoms. Another 5 to 10% of people have minor symptoms such as: fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs. These people are usually back to normal within one or two weeks. In about 0.5% of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. The weakness most often involves the legs but may less commonly involve the muscles of the head, neck and diaphragm. Years after recovery post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to what the person had during the initial infection.


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Information sources:

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Gould, T. (1995). A summer plague. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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