Papers and correspondence of Sir John Edward Lennard-Jones, 1894-1954

Scope and Content

The papers include biographical material, scientific and personal correspondence, and lectures and addresses on scientific and religious subjects. There are also 80 personal daily journals (numbered, not in chronological order, by Lennard-Jones) including the period, 1942-1946, when he was Superintendent of Armament Research and Director of Scientific Research, Ministry of Supply.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Edward Lennard-Jones was born in Leigh, Lancashire and educated at Leigh Grammar School where he specialised in classics. In 1912 he entered Manchester University where he changed his subject to mathematics. After First World War service in the Royal Flying Corps he returned to Manchester as Lecturer in Mathematics, 1919-1922. In 1922, on the advice of Sydney Chapman, he applied for and was elected to a Senior 1851 Exhibition which enabled him to work in Cambridge where he became a research student at Trinity College (Ph.D. 1924). He moved to Bristol University as Reader in Mathematical Physics, 1925-1927, and Professor of Theoretical Physics, 1927-1932, returning to Cambridge as Plummer Professor of Theoretical Chemistry, 1932-1953. In this, the first Chair of Theoretical Chemistry to be created in Britain, Lennard-Jones built up a research school applying concepts of quantum mechanics and interatomic forces to phenomena in physics and organic chemistry. His first graduate student was C.A. Coulson. In the Second World War Lennard-Jones served as Chief Superintendent of Armament Research, 1942-1945. He remained in government service for a further year as Director of Scientific Research, Ministry of Supply, before returning to Cambridge in 1946. In 1953 he became Principal of University College of North Staffordshire (later Keele University) but died in 1954 when he had been in the post less than a year. He was elected FRS in 1933 (Davy Medal 1953) and knighted in 1946.


By section as follows: Biographical, Scientific and personal correspondence, Personal journals, Lectures, sermons and addresses, Private correspondence. Index of correspondents.

Access Information

Readers intending to use the Archives Centre must write in advance to the Keeper of the Archives giving details of their research subject and listing the collections they will wish to consult. New readers should also provide a letter of introduction and some form of identification (such as a passport or driving licence).

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Sir John Edward Lennard-Jones, CSAC catalogue no. 2/73, 7 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Separated Material

A collection of Lennard-Jones's published work is held at Keele University.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1973 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Dr John Lennard-Jones, son. Deposited in Churchill Archives Centre.