Papers of Sir Alister Clavering Hardy

Scope and Content

Papers in this collection relate to the scientific work of Hardy and his connections with the University of Hull and William Warley

Administrative / Biographical History

Alister Clavering Hardy was an English marine biologist born in 1896. His career began in 1921 as an assistant naturalist at Fisheries Laboratory in Lowestoft where he studied the feeding relationship between North Sea herring and plankton. In 1924 he was appointed Chief Zoologist on the RRS Discovery expedition to the Antarctic (1925-1927), during which he developed a sampling device known as the Continuos Plankton Recorder (CPR).

Upon his return, Hardy was invited to take up the post of Professor of Zoology at the newly established University College Hull in 1928, which post was extended in 1930 to include a chair in Oceanography. He modified the design of his CPR and adapted it for use on merchant ships in the North Sea. He worked with fishing trawlers to record the distribution and movement of plankton, and the first official CPR survey was recorded in 1931. This research initially allowed for better investigation into the movement patterns of shoals of fish and would help to improve the North East fishing industry.

He remained with the University until 1942 when he took up a position at the University of Aberdeen as Regius Professor of Natural History. He would later move on to Oxford University as Linacre Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1940, having received a scientific medal from the Zoological Society the previous year. In 1957 he received a knighthood in the Queen's Brithday Honours List. On the 29th June 1963 he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Hull, and later in 1968 he received the Pierre Lecomte Nouy Prize.

In 1969 he founded the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre at Manchester College, Oxford. The centre moved to Lampeter in Wales and now houses over 6000 accounts of first hand spiritual and religious experiences. His work in this area was recognized with the award of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion shortly before his death in 1985.

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Donated by William Warley, Hull, April 1987

Related Material

Other repositories:

AC Hardy papers, Department of Western Manscripts, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford [GB 0161] - including correspondence with shipping magnate Sir John Ellerman

The continuous plankton recorder is deposited in the Science Museum, London


Cyril Lucas, ‘Hardy, Sir Alister Clavering (1896–1985)’, rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 16 March 2006]