Dr William Ivor Townsend Hotten

Personal Details

Dr William Ivor Townsend Hotten

24/08/1899 to 24/07/1987

Place of birth: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Nationality: Australian

CRN: 715510

Education and qualifications

General education

Fort Street High School, Sydney; University of Sydney.

Primary medical qualification(s)

MB,ChM, Sydney, 1923.

Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Election

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

MRACP, 1940 (FRACP, 1948); DA (Sydney) 1950 by thesis - Title: Four of the published works: with an introduction: personal experiences of the development of anaesthesia during the past twenty five years.

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

After four years in various hospital appointments Hotten entered general practice in Strathfield (a suburb of Sydney) with Dr St J Dansey who was also a surgeon at Prince Alfred Hospital. Hotten planned to be a physician, but displayed skills as an anaesthetist and Dansey helped him obtain a post as honorary anaesthetist in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1930. He was appointed Lecturer in Anaesthesia at the University of Sydney in 1934 and was, in effect, leader of the Hospital department from then, although personality issues delayed his formal appointment as Senior Honorary Anaesthetist until 1939. He held both appointments until his retirement in 1959.

Professional interests and activities

Hotten pioneered many new developments within his hospital, and played a vital part in the establishment of thoracic and then cardiac surgery there. He was an extremely skilled practical teacher, known as the ‘Master’, whose very arrival at a difficult situation often seemed to correct it. During WW2 he was one of the few specialist anaesthetists available and would supervise several trainees in different theatres at once, resulting in the suggestion that he had introduced automation to anaesthesia! He was also known as ‘The Prince of Anaesthetists and the Anaesthetist of Princes’ because of some of the patients he cared for. Beyond his hospital he was involved in a number of developments in the specialty: first President of the Anaesthetic Section of the NSW branch of the BMA, 1934; founder member of the Australian Society, 1934; and helped establish the Sydney DA, 1944. He was awarded the DA(RCP&S) in 1939, and was a foundation Fellow of the Australian Faculty of Anaesthetists in 1952.

Other biographical information

Hotten achieved much for his department, but tended not to value the opinion of others, this leading to difficulties, especially in the later years of his career when he associated more with physicians than anaesthetists. He was a keen gardener (show class flowers often adorning theatre staff rooms when such things were possible) and carpenter, but breathlessness limited his activities in later years.

Author and sources

Author: Prof Tony Wildsmith & Prof Barry Baker

Sources and any other comments: Obituaries by Pigott F (RPAH Pacemaker 1987; Spring: 22) and Windeyer JS (MJA 1988; 148: 367); see also Gwen Wilson’s ‘One Grand Chain’ Melbourne, ANZCA 1995, p599.