Biographical Memoirs Vol 62 coverToday we publish the latest volume of the serial Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, a unique compilation of memoirs celebrating the lives and scientific achievements of late Fellows. As the Editor Malcolm Longair writes in his Introduction

“…as one of my colleagues put it to me, Biographical Memoirs preserves the DNA of the Royal Society.”

And so today, we see the genetic code itself, with research extending from Mathematics, through Physics, Astronomy, Engineering, Ecology and Medicine amongst others.

These Fellows were an outstanding group of scientists, without whom we would lack a great deal of understanding and knowledge about the world around us; from the food we eat, to the climate we live in, to the stars above us​. Each individual developed our knowledge of their discipline in a way that informs everything we do.

Each memoir details not only the scientific life of the subject but looks at the context of their upbringing, where they were born, how they moved through life, and their other interests (from jazz to humanitarian projects). For this reason these memoirs document so much of a life, and capture personality from some of those that knew them best, their scientific friends and colleagues. Indeed as the late Fellow Rodney Hill recorded

“I hope that my biographer will find room for these details about ‘life outside mathematics’. Their cumulative effect is necessary, in my opinion, for an adequate portrayal of my personality and life in the round.”

It is with great pride that we present this collection to you the reader, and may each memoir inspire you to see the world a little differently, as all our Fellows do.


Sir John Cornforth and colleagues in the lab in 1940

Sir John Cornforth and colleagues in the lab in 1940


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