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George Darwin

For the English professional footballer, see George Darwin (footballer).

Sir George Howard Darwin
Sir George Howard Darwin
Born George Howard Darwin
(1845-07-09)9 July 1845
Down House, Downe, Kent, England
Died 7 December 1912(1912-12-07) (aged 67)
Cambridge, England
Nationality British
Fields Astronomy and mathematics
Alma mater Cambridge
Doctoral advisor Template:If empty
Academic advisors Edward John Routh
Notable students Ernest William Brown
E. T. Whittaker
Notable awards Smith's Prize (1868)
Royal Medal (1884)
Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1892)
Copley Medal (1911)

Sir George Howard Darwin KCB FRS (9 July 1845 – 7 December 1912)[1] was an English astronomer and mathematician.


File:Sir George Howard Darwin by Mark Gertler 1912.jpg
Sir George Howard Darwin, oil on canvas, Mark Gertler, 1912.

George Darwin was born at Down House, Kent, the second son and fifth child of Charles and Emma Darwin. From the age of 11 he studied under Charles Pritchard at Clapham Grammar School, and entered St John's College, Cambridge, in 1863, though he soon moved to Trinity College,[2] where his tutor was Edward John Routh. He graduated as second wrangler in 1868, when he was also placed second for the Smith's Prize and was appointed to a college fellowship. He was admitted to the bar in 1872, but returned to science.[2] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1879 and won their Royal Medal in 1884 and their Copley Medal in 1911.[3] He delivered their Bakerian Lecture in 1891 on the subject of "tidal prediction".

In 1883 Darwin became Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He studied tidal forces involving the Sun, Moon, and Earth, and formulated the fission theory of Moon formation.[4]

Darwin won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1892, and also later (1899–1901) served as president of that organisation.

He was an invited speaker in the International Congress of Mathematicians 1908, Rome on the topic of "Mechanics, Physical Mathematics, Astronomy."[5]

Darwin married Martha (Maud) du Puy, the daughter of Charles du Puy of Philadelphia, in 1884; his wife was a member of the Ladies Dining Society in Cambridge, with 11 other members.

She died on 6 February 1947. They had three sons and two daughters:

  • Gwen Raverat (1885–1957), artist.
  • Charles Galton Darwin (1887–1962), physicist and applied mathematics.
  • Margaret Elizabeth Darwin (1890–1974), married Sir Geoffrey Keynes.
  • William Robert Darwin (1894–1970)
  • Leonard Darwin (1899–1899)

He is buried in Trumpington Extension Cemetery in Cambridge with his son Leonard and his daughter Gwen (Raverat), his wife Lady Maud Darwin was cremated at Cambridge Crematorium; his brothers Sir Francis Darwin and Sir Horace Darwin are interred in the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground.


Works by G. H. Darwin



  1. ^ GRO Register of Deaths: DEC 1912 3b 552 CAMBRIDGE – George H. Darwin, aged 67
  2. ^ a b "Darwin, George Howard (DRWN863GH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Sir George Darwin
  5. ^ "ICM Plenary and Invited Speakers since 1897". International Congress of Mathematicians. 
  6. ^ a b Brown, Ernest W. (1909). "Review: Scientific Papers, by George Howard Darwin". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 16 (2): 73–78. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1909-01862-2. 

External links

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