Papers of Max Newman

Scope and Content

Correspondence with family, friends, colleagues and fellow mathematicians; documents relating to Newman's father and mother; documents relating to the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park and the development of the code breaking machine 'Colossus', both contemporary and post-war; Newman's Will and obituaries; other miscellaneous documents.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mathematician. Max Newman was the son of a German, Herman Alexander Neumann, and kept the family name until 1916. In 1915 he entered St John's College, though his studies were interrupted by War work between 1916 and 1919. He graduated in 1921, and became a Fellow of St John's in 1923. From 1927 he was also a University Lecturer in Mathematics.

His mathematical work was in the field of combinatorial topology where he greatly influenced his friend Henry Whitehead. A series of papers by Newman on this topic between 1926 and 1932 revolutionised the field. Newman also wrote an important paper on theoretical computer science, produced a topological counter-example of major significance in collaboration with Henry Whitehead, and wrote an outstanding paper on periodic transformations in abelian topological groups. He only wrote one book, 'Elements of the topology of plane sets of points', published in 1939.

In 1942 Newman joined the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park. Working with Alan Turing, Newman was involved in designing and building electronic machines to break an important German cipher system, culminating in the 'Colossus' which many consider to be the first electronic digital computer.

Between 1945 and 1964 Newman was Fielden Professor of Mathematics at Manchester University. He continued to be involved with mathematics in his retirement, teaching a course at the University of Warwick and undertaking research.

In 1939 Newman was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, receiving the Sylvester medal in 1958. In 1962 he was awarded the de Morgan Medal by the London Mathematical Society and in 1973 was made an Honorary Fellow of St John's College.

Newman married the author Lyn Irvine in 1934, and the couple had two sons. Lyn Newman died in 1973, and later that year Max married Margaret Penrose, widow of the geneticist Prof. Lionel Sharples Penrose.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

Donated to the Library by William Newman, son of M.H.A. Newman, Dec. 2001.

Note

Mathematician. Max Newman was the son of a German, Herman Alexander Neumann, and kept the family name until 1916. In 1915 he entered St John's College, though his studies were interrupted by War work between 1916 and 1919. He graduated in 1921, and became a Fellow of St John's in 1923. From 1927 he was also a University Lecturer in Mathematics.

His mathematical work was in the field of combinatorial topology where he greatly influenced his friend Henry Whitehead. A series of papers by Newman on this topic between 1926 and 1932 revolutionised the field. Newman also wrote an important paper on theoretical computer science, produced a topological counter-example of major significance in collaboration with Henry Whitehead, and wrote an outstanding paper on periodic transformations in abelian topological groups. He only wrote one book, 'Elements of the topology of plane sets of points', published in 1939.

In 1942 Newman joined the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park. Working with Alan Turing, Newman was involved in designing and building electronic machines to break an important German cipher system, culminating in the 'Colossus' which many consider to be the first electronic digital computer.

Between 1945 and 1964 Newman was Fielden Professor of Mathematics at Manchester University. He continued to be involved with mathematics in his retirement, teaching a course at the University of Warwick and undertaking research.

In 1939 Newman was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, receiving the Sylvester medal in 1958. In 1962 he was awarded the de Morgan Medal by the London Mathematical Society and in 1973 was made an Honorary Fellow of St John's College.

Newman married the author Lyn Irvine in 1934, and the couple had two sons. Lyn Newman died in 1973, and later that year Max married Margaret Penrose, widow of the geneticist Prof. Lionel Sharples Penrose.

Preferred citation: St John's College Library, Papers of Max Newman

Alternative Form Available

Digital copies of all the material within the Newman papers can be found in The Newman Digital Archive at http://www.cdpa.co.uk/Newman/

Archivist's Note

12 Apr 2017

Related Material

See also the papers of Lyn Newman.

Additional Information

Published