Harold Roper Robinson

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Harold Roper Robinson
Born 1889
Died 1955
Notable awards

Harold Roper Robinson FRS[1] (1889–1955) was a physicist and, in later life, an outstanding figure in university administration.[1][2]


Robinson was born in Ulverston, Lancashire on 26 November 1889, the eldest of four brothers and one sister. In 1908 he went to Manchester University on a scholarship. Between 1908 and 1921, he was successively undergraduate, research student, Assistant Lecturer and Demonstrator, Senior Assistant Lecturer in Physics and Assistant Director of the Physical Laboratory at Manchester.[1]


During World War I, Robinson worked with Lawrence Bragg on soundranging.[3]

The citation on his election to Fellowship of the Royal Society[1] in 1929 reads: "Before 1914 he carried out a series of researches into the nature of Beta-rays and other problems of radio activity. Distinguished also by his recent work on the energies of X-ray levels, as deduced from the velocities of secondary corpuscular rays, on which important branch of atomic physics he has obtained world-wide recognition as one of the pioneers."[4][5]

"Professor Robinson came to Queen Mary College, University of London, from University College, Cardiff, as Head of the Physics Department. He is acknowledged as one of the greatest of Rutherford's collaborators. He devised and developed the techniques of X-ray photoelectric spectroscopy and X-ray emission spectroscopy which became valuable tools in chemical analysis. Arising from this work he also deduced the then most accurate values of ratios of atomic constants."[4]

In 1942, he delivered the first Rutherford Memorial Lecture.[6]

Robinson was appointed Vice-Principal of Queen Mary College in 1946.[4]

Robinson decided to retire in 1953,[4] but took the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University of London (1954–1955).[1]


  • H. R. Robinson, "Rutherford: life and work to the year 1919, with personal reminiscences of the Manchester period", in Rutherford at Manchester (ed. J. B. Birks), pp. 53–86 (Heywood & Co., London, 1962)
  • H. R. Robinson and L. Wright, "Evan Jenkin Evans", Proc. Phys. Soc. 56, PP. 404–406 (1944).


  1. ^ a b c d e f da Costa Andrade, E. N. (1957). "Harold Roper Robinson 1889-1955". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 3: 160–126. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1957.0011. JSTOR 769358. 
  2. ^ Hughes, J. (2008). "William Kay, Samuel Devons and memories of practice in Rutherford's Manchester laboratory". Notes and Records of the Royal Society 62: 97–91. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2007.0043. 
  3. ^ Van Der Kloot, W. (2005). "Lawrence Bragg's role in the development of sound-ranging in World War I". Notes and Records of the Royal Society 59 (3): 273–284. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2005.0095. 
  4. ^ a b c d Professor Robinson, Queen Mary College, originally published on: 10 August 2003 at: www.ph.qmul.ac.uk/history/chronology/dept-chronology-19. Archived at zoominfo.com. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
  5. ^ "News and Views". Nature 123 (3096): 325. 1929. doi:10.1038/123325a0. 
  6. ^ Recipients of the Rutherford Medal and Prize, Institute of Physics. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
    From 1942 to 1964, the award was named the "Rutherford Memorial Lecture".