She was born Phyllis Lockett in Macclesfield and went to Stockport High School for Girls. She graduated from Manchester University with a B.Sc. in 1938, M.Sc. in 1939 and a Ph.D. in Physics in 1946. She was a research student from 1945-46 and research fellow from 1946-49 at Girton College, Cambridge. She married Malcolm Nicolson, also a physicist, in 1942; after his accidental death in 1951 she married Malcolm McCaig. She died in Sheffield.
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