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Leslie Algernon (Ivan) Maxwell (1890–1964)

by V. M. Trikojus

With the passing of Ivan Maxwell on April 24, 1964, a unique period of triple service came to a close. His long and distinguished association with the University of Melbourne and with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, added to a busy consultant practice as a general physician, represented a heavy undertaking for one individual; yet the range of his mind and interests extends well beyond, to include practical agriculture, music and the enjoyment of good fellowship.

Ivan Maxwell was born in 1890 in the Brocklesby district of southern New South Wales, where his father, William Maxwell, was a grazier. It was then a fairly remote area, and he and his elder brother, Hubert, were taught first by a governess and then by a tutor. When he was 12 years old the family moved to Melbourne where he attended the University High School and the undertook the course in agriculture at the University of Melbourne. During his year of practical agriculture at Dookie College, he was awarded the Farrer Gold Medal for an essay on the breeding of wheat. Continuing at the university, he completed the science course and added a period of research in physiology leading to the M.Sc. degree.

On the advice of Professor W. A. Osborne, he extended his training to include medicine, in which he graduated with first-class honours in 1918, and for the following two years he was a resident medical officer at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Later he became an out-patient physician (1927 to 1943) and then physician to in-patients (1943 to 1950).

Among his other contributions to the hospital, he suggested the need for the Royal Melbourne Hospital manual and was its first editor. With Miss L. Aitkin (now lady Superintendent of the Hospital) he compiled the dietetic section, and he was also co-author of the Royal Melbourne Hospital pharmacopæia. In accord with his thoroughness, he insisted that the manual should always accompany its owner, and thus should fit comfortably into the side pocket of the student's white coat. This led to discussions between the editor, the coat manufacturer and the publisher, with a most satisfactory outcome.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

V. M. Trikojus, 'Maxwell, Leslie Algernon (Ivan) (1890–1964)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 2 March 2024.

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