Edward Foyle Collingwood

Born: 17 Jan 1900 in Alnwick, Northumberland, England
Died: 25 Oct 1970 in Alnwick, Northumberland, England

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Edward Collingwood joined the Navy in 1914 and became a midshipman the following year. However he fell on board ship and broke his wrist and damaged his knee just before the Battle of Jutland. He was transferred to the hospital ship, then invalided out of the Navy. Attempting to go to Woolwich he failed the medical examination so, in 1918, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge.

Collingwood was influenced by his advisor of studies, Hardy at Cambridge and decided early on that he would be a mathematician. He was also influenced by Littlewood, but his examination performance was relatively poor and he obtained only a Second Class degree. Although there were many others in Collingwood's year at Cambridge like Burkill, Ingham and Newman, he seems to have he seems to have had little contact with them. A friend, Gilbert Ashton, writing of these days wrote that Collingwood was

... always known by his friends and contemporaries of Trinity as 'The Admiral' ... I remember The Admiral as a quiet, reserved and rather shy person ...
Despite his examination results he studied for a Ph.D. and Littlewood became his supervisor. He was awarded the degree for a thesis entitled Contributions to the theory of integral functions of finite order in 1929. From 1930 he was appointed Steward of Trinity and gave advanced courses on integral and meromorphic functions.

In 1937 Collingwood left Cambridge and became High Sheriff of Northumberland. However when the World War II began in 1939, he became a naval scientist. As stated in [1]:-

he got himself into uniform early in the war and his record is impressive.
He was Chief Scientist in the Admiralty mine design department in 1943. For his war work he was awarded the C.B.E. and received the Legion of Merit from the USA in 1946.

After the war he returned to his researches on meromorphic functions, publishing an important paper in 1949. He then undertook research work with Mary Cartwright on the theory of cluster sets. Mary Cartwright writes:-

I tried to contribute what I could to this paper ... my impression is that it was much less than his contribution. I also collaborated in one later paper published in 1961 on an allied topic. ... I found myself quite unable to grasp the deep results in the theory of sets of points on which much of Collingwood's later work in this field depended.
Collingwood became involved with hospital boards in Newcastle, then later he was involved with medical affairs on a national and international level. He was chairman of the Council of Durham University for most of the 1950's and 1960's.

Collingwood was elected to the Royal Society in 1965. He also served the London Mathematical Society in many ways, as a member of the Council and as Treasurer. He wrote an article in 1951 to mark the centenary of the Society.

References (3 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

Edward F Collingwood was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1965. You can see a history of the Royal Society and a list of the members among the mathematicians in our archive.

E F Collingwood was the London Mathematical Society President in 1969 - 1970. You can see a history of the LMS and a list of the presidents.

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JOC/EFR December 1996