Thomas Arnold Brown


Born: 21 May 1893 in Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: 13 May 1965 in Exeter, England

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Thomas Arnold Brown's father was John Brown, and the family lived at 39 Spottiswoode Road, Edinburgh. Thomas's secondary school education was at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, between October 1898 and July 1911. He passed the Scottish Leaving Certificate examinations in English, Latin, French, and Mathematics in 1910. He was dux of George Watson's in 1911, entering the University of Edinburgh in that year to study mathematics and physics, having passed Preliminary Examination in October 1911.

At University he took the Ordinary courses in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in session 1911-12, then the Ordinary courses in Chemistry and French in session 1912-13. For the two sessions 1913-14 and 1914-15 he studied the Honours courses in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. In June 1915 he was awarded First Class Honours in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy and also received a B.Sc. (Pure) in the same year. He was awarded the Napier medal for the top performance in Mathematics. In addition he was awarded the Welsh Mathematical Bursary in October 1911, the Kelland Prize in September 1912, and the Drummond Mathematical Scholarship in June 1915 to finance a further period of study.

When Brown graduated from the University of Edinburgh, World War I was taking place and he had to undertake war service. At first he began research at Edinburgh under Whittaker as well as undergoing military training. He was commissioned in 1916, serving both at home and overseas, and had to put his research career on hold. After the war ended, he was awarded a Carnegie Fellowship to enable him to undertake research at Trinity College, Cambridge, under E W Hobson.

In 1921 Brown was appointed as a Lecturer in Pure Mathematics in University College, London. Let us note that on a return trip to Edinburgh he was caught speeding in his car. In September 1922 he was fined £2 for exceeding the twenty-mile limit in Comiston Road. At University College he was quickly promoted to Senior Lecturer but after two years he left when appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at University College, Exeter. On 2 May 1923 his engagement was announced:-

The engagement is announced between Thomas Arnold Brown, elder son of Mr and Mrs John Brown, 141 Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh, and Mary Cecil (Mollie), elder daughter of the late E A Gibson, B.A., LL.B., M.B., Ch.B., City Coroner for Manchester and Mrs Gibson, Blomfield Court, London W. 9.
Brown continued to hold the Chair at Exeter until he retired in 1958.

In December 1915 Thomas Brown joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. Brown was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 3 March 1924, his proposers being Sir Edmund T Whittaker, A Crichton Mitchell, Sir Ernest Maclagan Wedderburn, Ralph A Sampson.

An obituary, written by D Rees, appears in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Year Book 1966, pages 11-12.
We give a version of this obituary at THIS LINK.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson


List of References (4 books/articles)

Mathematicians born in the same country

Additional Material in MacTutor

  1. Papers in the Proceedings and Notes of the EMS
  2. Obituary: RSE

Honours awarded to Thomas Arnold Brown
(Click below for those honoured in this way)
1. Lecturer at the EMS 
2. Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh  Elected 1924


Main Index Biographies index

JOC/EFR November 2007
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School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland

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