Papers and correspondence of Thomas Brooke Benjamin, 1929-1995

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The surviving documentation of many aspects of Benjamin's career, is unfortunately sparse; several of his career moves seem to have resulted in the loss or destruction of papers. The biographical material provides a useful outline of the principal events of Benjamin's life including his appointment to the Sedleian Professorship at Oxford. His non-professional interests, music and poetry are well recorded. There is material relating to university courses taught by Benjamin and a considerable quantity of notes, drafts and calculations relating to research, lectures and publications, much of it undated and difficult to assign as to category. Although few records survive relating to Benjamin's visits and conferences, the extent of his travels and his reputation as a lecturer can be seen. Benjamin's involvement with professional mathematical societies and journals is not well documented. However, there is a more satisfactory representation of his concern with various aspects of higher education, especially the National Conference of University Professors of which he was a founder and first Chairman. Only a very little mathematical correspondence survives.

Administrative / Biographical History

Benjamin was born in 1929 in Wallasey, Merseyside. He was educated at Wallasey Grammar School and Liverpool University where he studied electrical engineering, 1947-1950 before moving to Yale University on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship where he obtained a Master's degree. He took his doctorate at Cambridge University on cavitation of liquids. He was elected Fellow of King's College, Cambridge in 1955, and appointed Assistant Director of Research 1958-1970 and Reader in Hydrodynamics 1967-1970, working in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University, on problems of fluid dynamics such as thin films, wave instability, drag reduction and vortex breakdown. In 1970 Benjamin moved as Professor of Mathematics to the University of Essex, where he set up the Fluid Mechanics Research Institute, to promote interaction between mathematicians and experimentalists in advanced fluid mechanics. In 1979 he accepted appointment to the Sedleian Chair of Natural Philosophy at Oxford University. Apart from periods as Visiting Professor at overseas universities, principally in America, Benjamin remained in Oxford until his death in 1995. In addition to his contributions to the study of fluid dynamics, Benjamin retained a lifelong interest in music, as executant (piano and strings), conductor and composer. Somewhat later in life, he also turned to the composition of poetry. Benjamin was elected FRS in 1966 (Bakerian Lecture 1992). He died in 1995.


By section as follows: Biographical, Notes, drafts and calculations, Lectures, conferences and visits, Societies and organisations, Mathematics and higher education, Correspondence. Index of correspondents

Conditions Governing Access

Entry permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card or an Oxford University Card displaying the Bodleian logo. All applicants for new or replacement cards must apply in person, with a recommendation and payment if required, and with proof of their identity.

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Thomas Brooke Benjamin (1929-1995) by J. Alton and T.E. Powell, NCUACS catalogue no. 63/1/97, 54 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1996 by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists from Mrs Natalia Benjamin, widow and via Professor John Toland, School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath. Placed in the Bodleian Library (Gift) in 1997.