Sue Young Histories

Leslie and Phyllis Speight and Homeopathy

May 20, 2009

Leslie James M Speight (1901-1995) and Phyllis M Speight **(nee Tomkins, nee Rowntree nee Jameson) **(1912-?still alive)  were/are British lay homeopaths who were also important as publishers of homeopathic books, first through The Homeopathic Publishing Company (Phyllis was the editor 1952-1967 when this company was taken over by later C W Daniel & Co in 1992), and then through Health Science Press. In 1979 Phyllis briefly resuscitated The Homeopathic World, editing it with the scientologist and homeopath Edward C Hamlyn of Plymouth. It lasted only 2 years. Phyllis stopped publishing homeopathic books in 1995 when Leslie died.

Leslie was a publisher, who was one of the founders of the Incorporated Institute of Homeopaths for lay homeopaths alongside Edwin D W Tomkins. Edwin D W Tomkins married Phyllis M Rowntree in 1952. Phyllis was a lay homeopath, and in 1964, she took over Noel Puddephatt’s practice in Devonshire Street, W1, when Noel Puddephatt emigrated to South Africa in 1963. Phyllis had been a student of Noel Puddephatt and his homeopathic assistant in the 1950s. Phyllis then married Leslie in 1964.

Leslie and Phyllis Speight were colleagues of J Ellis Barker, John Henry Clarke, Ephraim Connor, Edward W Cotter, Edward C HamlynJohn DaMonte, Thomas Lackenby Maughan, Noel PuddephattEdwin D W Tomkins, Canon Roland Upcher, Frank Parker Wood,

The Speights [Leslie and Phyllis] were important as publishers of homeopathic books, first through The Homeopathic Publishing Co and then through Health Science Press. They published many reprints of 19th century classics like John Henry Clarke’s Dictionary of Materia Medica and Robert Ellis Dudgeon’s translation of Samuel Hahnemann’s Organon as well as many modern works.

This work greatly helped UK homeopathy through those dark days of stagnation and decline. The retired homeopathic publisher Leslie Speight died on May 28 1995, just a few days after his 94th birthday. He is perhaps better known as the husband of the homeopath Phyllis Speight and through his publishing endeavours.

Leslie Speight was the owner and director of The Homeopathic Publishing Company and later of Health Science Press, both of which dominated homeopathic publishing in Britain for most of this century.

Leslie focused most of his energy into publishing, only writing a couple of books himself, _Homeopathy and Immunization_ and Sports Injuries.

The Speights both made regular contributions to Heal Thyself, The Homeopathic World many times in the 1940s and 50s. After the death of J Ellis Barker in August 1948, the journal was run by an editorial team that included Phyllis. It was eventually taken over by the Speights, Phyllis becoming Editor in 1952.

With a declining readership for homeopathy after the 1946 NHS Act, the magazine had to broaden into a general health and fitness type of magazine in order to ‘stay afloat’ and it thus became less and less overtly homeopathic as time went on. It finally fizzled out c.1967.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s the Speights published many homeopathic books under the Health Science Press banner. These were popular before Thorsons came on the scene in the mid 1970s. Examples include John Henry Clarke’s The Prescriber: How to Practise Homeopathy and Dictionary of Materia Medica, Noel Puddephatt’s small books and Dorothy Shepherd’s books as well as others on Radionics and Nature Cure.

It is very largely to their credit, industry and great foresight that homeopathy kept going at all throughout those dark years. One presumes that Leslie was descended from the family of Leslie J Speight and Partners, a general contractors and hauliers based at Kingsway, WC2 in 1935 and at Caxton St, SW1 in 1945 [see London Telephone Directories, in BT Archive, Millbank, London]. The firm had ceased trading by the time of the Jan 1963 Telephone Directory.

Leslie Speight was not a practitioner of homeopathy but primarily a publisher and a great supporter of the homeopathic cause. He was one of Edwin D W Tomkins’ original team in 1946 when he founded the Incorporated Institute of Homeopaths for lay homeopaths, after a large public rally in Caxton Hall.

The Speights set up Health Science Press in the 1950s, and through it, and later C W Daniel & Co, they kept the homeopathic flag flying right through the years of ‘homeopathic dearth’ c.1950-80. In those days before the Homeopathic Colleges, without all those books, many would be homeopaths would never have got beyond the early interest stage, let alone into practice.

“Leslie Speight is the owner of The Homeopathic Publishing Company, and must be nearly 90 by now” [Brown, 1992]. Leslie Speight married the homeopath Phyllis M Tomkins nee Rowntree in 1964 (Edwin D W Tomkins married the homeopath Phyllis M Rowntree in 1952. She was based at Nightingale House, Du Cane Rd, London, W12, until 1964 when she took over Noel Puddephatt’s practice in Devonshire Street, W1).

She was based at Nightingale House, Du Cane Rd, London, W12, until 1964 when she took over Noel Puddephatt’s practice in Devonshire Street, W1. By 1971 she was back at Nightingale House, Du Cane Road [see London Telephone Directories]. My assumption here is that the property was sold after Noel Puddephatt’s death, which might have occurred in 1971. Several times I have tried in vain to obtain a copy of his Death Certificate from the South African Embassy in London.

Phyllis had been a student of Noel Puddephatt and his homeopathic assistant in the 1950s. [see article about her in Devon Life, Apr 1990]. She was apprenticed to Noel Puddephatt c.1951-55, in Brighton and Bognor, then in London.

They were also on excellent terms with all the London lay homeopaths of the 40s and 50s like Darnell Cooper, Frank Parker Wood, Edward W Cotter, J Ellis Barker, Edwin D W Tomkins and Arthur Jenner.

“Phyllis Speight studied the philosophy and Materia Medica of homeopathy for 4 years before going into partnership with Noel Puddephatt. They practised first in Brighton and then in London. When Noel Puddephatt went abroad [he emigrated to S Africa in April 1963], Phyllis Speight continued to work in London, and expanded her practice to include first Hampshire and then Sussex.

“In Dec. 1974 she and her husband moved to Devon to retire, but at her patient’s request she started working again. Apart from contributing articles to magazines and journals, she is also the author of several other authoritative works on homeopathy.” [Speight, 1979, preface].

In 1979 she briefly resuscitated The Homeopathic World editing it with the scientologist and homeopath Edward C Hamlyn of Plymouth. It lasted only 2 years.

Phyllis Speight, [born 1912/3] in practice since c.1955, 77 years old in Apr 1990, editor of The Homeopathic World 1952-67, practised in London and Sussex. Between 1948-1995 Phyllis Speight has published numerous small books on various aspects of homeopathy. Many are bestsellers within the natural health movement.

Leslie Speight in the 1911 census… Leslie James  Speight  9  -  London  1902  N Brixton Surrey SPEIGHT LESLIE JAMES M 1902 9 Lewisham London

Leslie Speight wrote Homeopathy and Immunization, Sports Injuries,

Phyllis Speight wrote Pertinent Questions and Answers about Homeopathy, Homeopathic Remedies for Children, Homeopathic Remedies for Ears, Nose and Throat, Homeopathy for Emergencies, Homeopathy: A Home Prescriber, Homeopathy: A Practical Guide to Natural Medicine, Homeopathic Remedies for Women’s Ailments, A Study Course in Homeopathy, A Comparison of the Chronic Miasms, Before Calling the Doctor, Arnica: The Remedy that Should be in Every Home, Arnica the Wonder Herb, Overcoming Rheumatism and Arthritis with James G Speight, Tranquillisation: The Non Addictive Way, Coughs and Wheezes: Their Treatment by Homeopathy, The Travellers Guide to Homeopathy, Fasting with Maria Wilhelmi Buchinger, Puddephatt’s Primers with Noel Puddephatt, Rheumatism, including fibrositis, lumbago, sciatica and gout,

Of interest:

Information compiled from an email exchange with Peter Morrell 9.2.13, and a late night phone call with Francis Treuherz FSHom 9.2.13 = I am not absolutely sure who ran The Homeopathic Publishing Company in 1881, possibly John Henry Clarke, who was definitely running this company in 1888 from 2 Finsbury Circus, as it published The Homeopathic World (but then so did Epps, Thatcher Publishers at this time!) Leslie J Speight was working for The Homeopathic Publishing Company in the 1920s, when he met John Henry Clarke but never got to know him as such. The Homeopathic Publishing Company was owned and run by Leslie J Speight (1901-1995) and Phyllis M Speight{::}** {::}(1912-?still alive) *from the 1940s (we think). The Speights were/are British lay homeopaths who were important publishers of homeopathic books, through The Homeopathic Publishing Company (at 13 Bedford Square, WC1 (1943), and then at 24 St. George’s Street, W1 (1947), and also possibly from Landor Road, Stockwell, SW9 at this time, though a lot was lost in the London bombings during WWII. The Homeopathic Publishing Company transferred with the Speights to Rustington in Sussex (in the 1960s?), and then onto Bradford, Holsworthy in Devon as Health Science Press, before being sold to C W Daniel Co. Ltd., 1 Church Path, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1JP, a well established publisher specialising in alternative medicine, until 1992, when the archive of C W Daniel was received by the International Institute of Social History_ (IISH ( in 1992. The archive of IISH contains the archive of books from The C.W. Daniel Company, which have been transferred to the library of the IISH and can be found by using the collection code “C.W.Daniel”. _‘…__In the 1960s and 1970s, the Institute benefited from the growing interest in the history of social movements and ideas. It resumed its old task of saving the archives and libraries of persecuted people and organizations…’*

James G Speight wrote _Overcoming Rheumatism and Arthritis_ with Phyllis Speight, and he has also written many books on science:

James G Speight, FCIC, has been awarded the Scientists Without Borders Medal of Honor of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The honor comes with a certificate and inscribed medal for his outstanding contributions to the encouragement of scientists and engineers to work across national borders for the betterment of the scientific and engineering disciplines.

This is one of the highest awards that the academy gives to scientists and engineers. The other high award, the Einstein Medal, was awarded to James G Speight in 2001 for outstanding contributions and service in the field of geological sciences.