F. M. Cornford

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Francis Macdonald Cornford, FBA (27 February 1874 – 3 January 1943) was an English classical scholar and poet; because of the similarity of his forename and his wife's, he was known to family as "FMC" and his wife Frances as "FCC".[1]


Cornford was educated at St Paul's School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a Fellow from 1899 and held a teaching post from 1902.[2] He became Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy in 1931 and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1937.


In 1909 Cornford married the poet Frances Darwin, daughter of Sir Francis Darwin and Ellen Wordsworth Darwin, née Crofts, and a granddaughter of Charles Darwin. They had five children:

He was cremated at Cambridge Crematorium on 6 January 1943.


His work Thucydides Mythistoricus (1907) argued that Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War was informed by Thucydides' tragic view. From Religion to Philosophy: A Study in the Origins of Western Speculation (1912) sought out the deep religious and social categories and concepts that informed the achievements of the early Greek philosophers. He returned to this theme in Principium Sapientiae: The Origins of Greek Philosophical Thought (posthumously published, 1952). His Microcosmographia Academica (1908) was the classic insider's satire on academic politics. It is the source of a number of catchphrases, such as the "doctrine of unripeness of time", "the Principle of the Wedge", and "the Principle of the Dangerous Precedent".[5][6]

The Republic of Plato, translated with introduction and notes, Oxford University Press, first published in 1941. From the preface: "This version aims at conveying to the English reader as much as possible of the thought of the Republic in the most convenient and least misleading form."



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Academic offices
Preceded by
Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy Cambridge University
1930 - 1939
Succeeded by
Reginald Hackforth