Harold Davenport, FRS


1908-69.  Natural Scientist.  DavenportRouse Ball Professor of Mathematics; winner of the Rayleigh, Adams & Berwick prizes.

From Accrington grammar school Davenport won scholarships to Manchester University where, in 1927 at the age of nineteen, he graduated with first-class honours in mathematics. He then won a scholarship to Trinity, and in 1929 was classed as wrangler in part two of the mathematical tripos and declared by the examiners to have deserved special credit in the most advanced subjects. He was elected to a fellowship in 1932, a successor to the school of mathematical analysis of G.H. Hardy and J.E. Littlewood, specialising in the areas of diophantine approximation and the geometry of numbers. 

He was President of the London Mathematical Society from 1957 to 1959.  After professorial positions at the University of Wales and University College London, he was appointed to the Rouse Ball Chair of Mathematics in Cambridge in 1958. There he remained until his death, of lung cancer, by which time he was the undisputed leader of the British school of number theory.

Davenport received the Sylvester medal of the Royal Society in 1967. In 1964 he had been elected an ordinary member of the Royal Society of Science in Uppsala, and in 1968 he received an honorary DSc from the University of Nottingham. He spent the summer term of 1966 at the University of Göttingen, as Gauss professor, the first Englishman to hold this distinguished visiting appointment.


Memorial inscription Translation


Artis Mathematicae Rouse Ball Professor et huius
Collegii Socius, naturam numerorum mirum
quam penitus introspectam habebat, qui nodos
Herculaneos aliis insolubiles sibi praeposuit, et dum
eleganter solvit, novas vias scientiae patefecit.
Studiosae iuventuti doctrinam suam ita largiebatur
ut opera discipulorum ipsissimis vocibus magistri
clarissime personarent.
obiit A.S. MCMLXIX aetatis suae LXII

Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics and a Fellow of the College, Harold Davenport carried out unusually penetrating research into number theory; he set himself Herculean tasks in choosing problems which others could not solve, and through his own elegant solutions he revealed new areas of knowledge.  He gave of his own learning so generously to his younger pupils that the accents of the master can be heard unmistakably in their works.  He died in 1969 at the age of sixty-one.

Harold Davenport

Brass located on the north wall of the Ante-Chapel. 
Inscription text by R.D. Dawe.


Davenport brass.  Click for enlarged view




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George Howard Darwin


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