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Biographical entry Howarth, Walter Goldie (1879 - 1962)

MRCS 9 February 1905; FRCS 9 December 1909; LRCP 1905; BA Cantab 1900; MA MB BCh 1905.

29 April 1962
ENT surgeon


Born at Prestwich, son of J E Howarth and twin brother of (Sir) Edgar Goldie Howarth KBE, CB, he was educated at Shrewsbury, King's College, Cambridge and St Thomas's Hospital. After house appointments, when he was house surgeon to Sir George Makins and W H Battle, he spent considerable time in postgraduate study of otolaryngology at Vienna, Freiberg and Berlin. In 1911 he was appointed the first pure rhinolaryngologist on the staff of St Thomas's taking over the department from H B Robinson, one of the assistant general surgeons who up to this time had always dealt with this aspect of surgery in addition to their general duties.

In 1932 he was appointed the first head of the united ear nose and throat departments, as before this date the aural department had remained a separate entity. He was also consultant to the City of London for Diseases of the Chest, and to Midhurst, Horsham, Petworth, and Haslemere Hospitals.

During the war of 1914-18 Howarth was an officer of the Territorial Army attached to the Second London General Hospital, and later was appointed consultant to St Dunstan's Hospital for blinded servicemen many of whom had extensive nasal as well as orbital wounds.

He was a Hunterian Professor in 1921, and in 1929 became editor of the Journal of Laryngology and Otology, a position he held with distinction for the next thirty-two years, during which time the Journal exerted great influence internationally. In 1937 he was invited to give the Semon lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine, and he was also President of the Laryngological section. The problem of wastage of time in out-patient departments exercised him and he published a time sheet for the organisation of a department in a teaching hospital.

An essentially shy and modest man, he was extremely kind, well liked by students, and did a great deal to further the advance of his specialty. He had in 1912 translated BrĂ¼ning's book on Peroral Endoscopy into English, the first book on its subject in this country.

While at Cambridge he captained the University Golf team in 1901 and in 1900 won the Linskill Cup. Always a keen horseman, he sustained a severe fracture of the carpus, shortly after being appointed consultant, necessitating the removal of some of the bones of his wrist, but, in spite of this handicap which eliminated him from first-class golf, he continued to operate with dexterity and for many years after was a regular rider to hounds.

During the war of 1939-45 he returned to St Thomas's to work but afterwards became a whole-time cattle farmer in Sussex, rising daily at 5 am, and breeding Jersey cattle. In 1905 he married Esther Mary, daughter of Halsey Ricardo FRIBA, by whom he had a daughter and three sons, one of whom A E Howarth, is a Fellow and otolaryngologist. Howarth died at his farm on 29 April 1962 aged 83.

Radical operation for frontal sinusitis. J Laryngol 1923, 38, 341.
Endoscopy of the upper respiratory and alimentary tracts. Brit Encycl med Pract 1951, 5, 140.
Diseases of the nasal ancillary sinuses, in Handfield-Jones and Porritt Essentials of modern Surgery, 4th edition 1951.

Sources used to compile this entry: [J Laryngol 1962, 76, 575-578 with appreciation by Sir Victor Negus; The Times 1 May 1962 p 16b and 4 May p 21b by Lord Fraser of Lonsdale; Brit med J 1962, 1, 1346 with portrait, appreciation by GHB; Lancet 1962, 1, 1028 with portrait, appreciation by WAM].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England