John William Heslop-Harrison

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John William Heslop Harrison
Born 1881
Birtley, Tyne and Wear
Died 23 January 1967
Birtley, Tyne and Wear
Alma mater Durham University
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society[1]

John William Heslop Harrison, FRS[1] (1881–1967), was Professor of Botany at King's College, Durham University (now Newcastle University), now perhaps best remembered for an alleged academic fraud.


Heslop Harrison, an established academic and Fellow of the Royal Society,[1] was in 1948 accused by John Raven, a University of Cambridge classics tutor, of making false claims to have discovered certain plant species on the Isle of Rum on the west coast of Scotland. Whether or not such grasses were on Rum is pivotal to a theory that the islands escaped the last ice age. The fraud claim is described — and its veracity supported — in Karl Sabbagh's book, A Rum Affair.[2] Recently more proof about forgeries committed by Heslop-Harrison emerged.[3][4]

Heslop Harrison's fourth son was Jack Heslop-Harrison who became director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1970.


  1. ^ a b c Peacock, A. D. (1968). "John William Heslop Harrison 1881-1967". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 14: 243–226. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1968.0011.  edit
  2. ^ Karl Sabbagh, A Rum Affair, London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1999. ISBN 0-7139-9277-8
  3. ^ Botanist John Heslop Harrison faked rare plant discoveries The Daily Telegraph, 2 October 2008
  4. ^ The botanist, the Ice Age flora and seeds of doubt Magnus Linklater, The Times, 2 October 2008
  5. ^ "Author Query for 'Hesl.-Harr.'". International Plant Names Index.