Ambrose Fleming: Notes on James Clerk Maxwell's lectures

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Notes by Ambrose Fleming on the last course of lectures given by James Clerk Maxwell at Cambridge University, delivered October 1878 - June 1879. There is an index at the front of each volume.

MS.Add.8082: Notes of lectures on thermodynamics, Michaelmas term, 1878.

MS.Add.8083: Notes of lectures on electrostatics, Lent term, and electromagnetism, Easter term, 1879.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir (John) Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945), electrical engineer, was born at Lancaster on 29 November 1849. He was educated at University College School, London, and University College London (B.Sc., 1870) before studying at South Kensington, 1872-1874, under Edward Frankland and Frederick Guthrie. He entered St John's College, Cambridge, in 1877 (B.A., 1880), where he became a Fellow in 1883. Fleming was Professor of Electrical Engineering, University College London, 1885-1926. He invented the thermionic valve in 1904, and was knighted in 1929. He died at Sidmouth on 18 April 1945.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) was born in Edinburgh on 13 June 1831. He attended the Edinburgh Academy and Edinburgh University, and entered Peterhouse, Cambridge, in October 1850, transferring to Trinity College in December of that year. He graduated in 1854, and became a Fellow in 1855. Maxwell was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Marischal College, Aberdeen, in 1856, and married Katherine Mary Dewar, the daughter of the principal, in 1858. He was Professor of Natural Philosophy at King's College, London, 1860-1865, and Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge from 1871. He died in Cambridge on 5 November 1879.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Cavendish Laboratory, 1976.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Sir J.A. Fleming in L.G. Wickham Legg and E.T. Williams, eds, Dictionary of national biography, 1941-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 258-260, and the entry on James Clerk Maxwell in Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of national biography, vol. XIII (London, 1909), pp. 118-121.

Other Finding Aids


Custodial History

The volumes were presented by Ambrose Fleming to the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, at the Maxwell Celebrations in October 1931.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library holds other papers relating to James Clerk Maxwell, MSS.Add.7655, 8375 and 8385.

Corporate Names