Alfred North Whitehead, OM, FRS, FBA


1861-1947.  Mathematician and philosopher. Whitehead, by Paul Drury

Born in Ramsgate, Whitehead studied at Sherborne School.  Having graduated in mathematics from Trinity, he became a Fellow and lectured at Cambridge until moving to University College London.  He left to become Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Imperial College of Science where he remained until 1924; he then became Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University until his retirement, and died in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  His self-confessed task was "to explore the no-man's land between science and philosophy".

With Bertrand Russell he co-wrote the Principia Mathematica, which has been described as marking "the culmination of the effort to treat mathematics as a department of logic".  His other books include Process and reality, The principle of relativity (1922), Science and the modern world, and Adventures of ideas (1934).

Memorial inscription Translation

Hoc titulo commemoratur


huius collegii per LVII annos socius et aliquamdiu lector tum Londinii mathematicae professor philosophiae denique apud cantabrigienses transatlanticos professor mox professor emeritus binis veluti patriis trina vitae spatia egisse videtur primum mathematicae alterum physicae tertium metaphysicae studiis dicata et regiae societatis et academiae britannicae socius obiit vir si quis alius humanitatis exemplar die Decembr.  XXX A.D.MCMXLVII aetatis suae LXXXVII.

This inscription commemorates Alfred North Whitehead, O.M., who was Fellow of the College for fifty-seven years.  He was for some time Lecturer at Trinity and then Professor of Mathematics in London; next he was Professor, and later Professor Emeritus, of Philosophy at Harvard University.  Hence he could be said to have lived three lives in two countries, the first devoted to mathematics, the second to physics, and the third to metaphysics.  He was a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the British Academy.  A model of broad culture, if any man was, he died on 30th December 1947 at the age of eighty-six.

Alfred North Whitehead

Brass located on the north wall of the Ante-Chapel.
Inscription text by Charlie Dunbar Broad / J.S. Morrison.


Whitehead brass




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Brooke Foss Westcott


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