Born near Birmingham, Henry Featherstone qualified in medicine from Cambridge and Birmingham Universities in 1917. He immediately joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and saw service as a Regimental Medical Officer during some of the heaviest fighting in the First World War.
After the war, encouraged by the pioneer specialist anaesthetist, Dr W J McCardie of Birmingham, Featherstone became a physician anaesthetist and was appointed Consultant Anaesthetist to the Birmingham General Hospital in 1926. As was the custom of the time, Featherstone’s work in public hospitals was voluntary, but he also built up a considerable private practice.
In 1930-31, Featherstone became president of the Anaesthetic Section of the Royal Society of Medicine; the most prestigious position in British anaesthesia. Despite having his own inherited private income from business interests, however, he was determined to raise the status of his fellow anaesthetists. He was the main founder of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland in 1932 and became its first President. He served as Commanding Officer of a hospital ship during the Second World War and his training helped ensure the crew’s survival should the vessel sink. Featherstone remained influential in anaesthetic circles until his death, aged 73.