Edward Harland Duckworth was educated in England at Cheltenham College; the City and Guilds Engineering College in Finsbury, and the Royal College of Science, Imperial College, University of London. After serving with the Royal Engineers during World War I, Duckworth returned to London University where he took an honours degree in Chemistry and became an Associate of the Royal College of Science, he then devoted a further year to the study of botany.
Duckworth took temporary teaching posts at Cheltenham, Haileybury and Wellingborough before accepting a post at Dean Close School in Cheltenham where he was involved in developing the science department. The Board of Education showed an interest in the work being done at Dean Close and in 1930 suggested Duckworth's name to E.R.J. Hussey, Director of Education in Nigeria; Hussey was looking for someone to take charge of the development of science in Nigeria and to serve as an adviser in matters relating to science teaching and technical education. This new post, Inspector of Education, was offered to Duckworth and in October 1930 he sailed for Lagos. His first year was spent teaching science at the Government Colleges at Ibadan and Umahia. He was then attached to the staff at the headquarters of the Education Department in Lagos where he worked closely with Hussey in the development of science teaching. His first tasks were to plan and equip the science department of Yaba Higher College (which had been established in 1934) and to give advice to those Missions which wanted to introduce science teaching in their schools.
In 1933 Hussey asked Duckworth to edit a new magazine for African teachers which was to replace the Bulletin of Educational Affairs. This new magazine, which was illustrated with Duckworth's own photographs, was initially called The Nigerian Teacher but was re-named Nigeria in 1936 to reflect the widening scope of the magazine.
In 1942 Duckworth started a boys camp near Igboshere village, 4 miles from Lagos, which ran weekend camps for destitute boys from Lagos. He also turned his attention to improving the health and living conditions in Igboshere and starting a new type of school there which was linked with village life; this school aroused a great deal of interest, especially amongst educationalists. In 1944 the post of Inspector of Education was abolished and Duckworth was officially designated "Editor of Nigeria and Organiser of Exhibitions". He retired in 1953 and went to live with his sister in Cheltenham, England. He died on the 14 January 1972.