Dr William Alister Alexander was born at Wick, Caithness.  The son of a doctor, he graduated in medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1912. After junior hospital appointments in the Royal Infirmary and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children he served in the RAMC during the First World War, including almost a year in Malta and two years in the North-west Frontier. After demobilisation he became an assistant in 1920 in the Department of Pathology. When he decided to switch to clinical work he held simultaneous appointments at Leith Hospital, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, a combination which remained unique in Edinburgh. Later he worked solely in the Royal Infirmary, becoming assistant physician in 1927 and physician in charge of wards in 1936. He retired from his hospital post in 1955.

He served on the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh's Council and succeeded Sir David Henderson as President in 1951. After demitting office in 1953, he became Honorary Librarian of the college.


  • Date of interview: October 1973
  • Archive reference: OBJ/ORA/1/45
  • Interviewer: Angus Stewart


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