Ronald Fairbairn was born in Edinburgh in 1889 and educated at Merchiston Castle School and the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Kiel and Strasbourg. During the First World War he served as a Territorial in the Royal Garrison Artillery with postings in Egypt and Palestine. He was Assistant Physician at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Mental Diseases from 1923-1924 and subsequently forged a career in medical psychology. He produced numerous psychological publications. He married, firstly, Mary Ann Gordon (d. 1952) and, secondly, Marion Frances Archer. He died on 31 December 1964.