Sir Joseph Larmor collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Larmor to Robert Falcon Scott Regarding the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904.

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Larmor was born in 1857 at Magheragall, County Antrim, Ireland. He was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Queen's College, Belfast. After graduating, he became a scholar at St. John's College, Cambridge. In 1880, he was elected a fellow of St. John's, returning to Ireland in the same year as professor of natural philosophy at Queen's College, Galway. In 1885, he returned to Cambridge as a university lecturer in mathematics, a post he held until 1903, when he was appointed to the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics. Larmor is best known for his contributions to the theory of electromagnetism, in particular the electron theory of matter, publishing his collected papers on electromagnetism in 1900 entitled Aether and Matter. His work marked the end of an attempt to express everything in terms of Newtonian physics and led soon afterwards to the theory of relativity. From 1911 to 1922, he represented Cambridge University as a Unionist Member of Parliament. He received many awards throughout his career and was knighted in 1909. Retiring from the Lucasian chair in 1932, Larmor returned to Ireland, where he lived until his death in 1942 at Holywood, County Down.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events , (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034 and Distinguished Scientists and Dictionary of National Biography, 1941-1950, Oxford University Press, London (1959)

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

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Further accessions possible.