Donovan, Charles (1863–1951), military doctor, parasitologist, and entomologist, was born in Calcutta, India, of a Cork family, the eldest of the four children of Charles Donovan, of the Bengal civil service, whose wife's name was probably Grace Jennings. When he was thirteen Charles was sent to live with his grandfather at Ummera House, Timoleague, in Co. Cork and he later studied medicine at QCC and at TCD, and graduated MD (1889) from the RUI. Shortly after entering the Indian medical service in 1891, he saw active service and was awarded the India frontier medal. Stationed at Fort Dufferin in Mandalay, he was attached first to the 27th Madras infantry and then to the 10th Gurkhas. After two years he joined the staff of the Madras medical college, where he became professor of physiology. He was appointed physician to the general hospital in Madras and later became superintendent of the Royapettah hospital, where he developed considerable research interests. In 1903 William Leishman discovered the small oval intracellular forms of the protozoan parasite which causes kala-azar, a serious infectious disease in the Indian sub-continent, and Donovan independently identified these to confirm Leishman's discovery. The forms discovered by the researchers were called Leishman–Donovan bodies and the parasite was named Leishmania donovani in their honour. Two years later Donovan made another major discovery when he identified the organism responsible for granuloma inguinale or granuloma venereum, subsequently named Donovania granulomatosis in his honour.
Donovan's approach to medicine was practical, with an insistence upon the importance of a healthy diet and the value of microscopy in training young doctors. When he retired to live in England at Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, in 1920, his important collection of Indian lepidoptera was lost on the voyage home. Retirement allowed him to visit Ireland regularly and to devote more time to the Irish macrolepidoptera, on which he had been publishing since 1885. In 1936 he published a Catalogue of the Macrolepidoptera of Ireland, which is still recognised as a model of its type and which stimulated much further research. It included records of rare moths from Ummera in Co. Cork provided by Donovan and his brother and two sisters, who were also interested in entomology. He died 29 October 1951. In 1953 a plaque was unveiled in Madras to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his discovery of the organism responsible for kala-azar. His entomological collections are in the Natural History Museum, London, and other material is in the Wellcome Library, London. Bryan P. Beirne described him as ‘tall, dark, wiry, tireless, decisive, forceful and dogmatic’.