Biography of Alexander Fleming

Photo of Alexander Fleming

Sir Alexander Fleming was a twentieth century pioneer in immunology.

When and Where was he Born?

6th August 1881, Lochfield, Darvel, Ayr, Scotland

Family Background:

Alexander Fleming was the son of a farmer.


Local Village School. Kilmarnock Academy.

Timeline of Alexander Fleming:

After leaving the Kilmarnock Academy he went to London to become a shipping Clerk.

1909: Fleming qualified as a specialist Surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London where he was to spend the rest of his career. As he was an expert marksman with the College Rifle team he managed to find his way into Sir Almroth Wright’s bacteriological laboratory. He became the first person to use anti typhoid vaccines on people.

1914-18: He served during the First World War as a medical officer in France.

1915: He marries Sarah Marion (died 1949).

1922: Fleming discovered Iysozyme whilst trying to find a cure for the common cold, an enzyme present in mucus which kills some bacteria.

1928: A chance exposure of a culture dish of staphylococci lead to his discovery of penicillin.

1938: Appointed Professor of Bacteriology at London.

1943: Fleming is elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

1944: Knighted.

1945: Oxford pathologists Howard Florey and Ernest Chain, had worked on ways of isolating the volatile penicillin and together with Fleming they shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

1953: He marries Dr Ama Lia Koutsouri-Voureka a colleague at the hospital after his first wife had died in 1949.

1955: He suffers from gastric upsets for several weeks.

When and Where did he Die?

11th March 1955, London, England suddenly of coronary thrombosis at home.

Age at Death:



1. 1915 to Sarah Marion (died 1949).
2. 1953 to Dr Ama Lia Koutsouri-Voureka a colleague at the hospital.

Site of Grave:

St. Paul’s Cathedral Crypt, London, England.

Fleming's Grave Marker
Fleming’s Grave Marker in St Paul’s Cathedral (copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:


St. Mary’s Hospital Museum, Praed Street, WC1 1NY.

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