Harry Lindgren

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Harry Lindgren (1912–1992) was a British/Australian engineer, linguist and amateur mathematician. He was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in England.

In 1935 he emigrated to Australia. He received a BSc degree from the University of Western Australia and later became a Commonwealth Patent Officer.

Contributions to mathematics[edit]

Lindgren published articles in several mathematical journals which culminated in his famous book 'Geometric Dissections' (Van Nostrand 1964), which explores techniques for devising and solving dissection puzzles. When published, his work was the only complete treatment of this subject in any language.[1] This remained true for a third of a century.[2]

Contributions to linguistics[edit]

In 1969 Lindgren published Spelling Reform: A New Approach (Alpha Books, 104 Bathurst St, Sydney 2000, Australia). This work outlines a proposal for introducing phoneme-by-phoneme adjustment of English spelling, in order that spellings may more accurately represent the sounds of the speech they denote. The book features several cartoons illustrating the absurdities of existing spellings.

On 1 September 1971 Lindgren launched the Spelling Action Society to promote his suggested reforms. He chose the name to share its initials with Scandinavia's SAS airline to acknowledge his Nordic ancestry. He published the newsletter Spelling Action under the society to promote use of his Spelling Reform step One (SR1). As Lindgren's health deteriorated in later life the newsletter was taken over by Gary Jimmieson (and later Doug Everingham).


  1. ^ According to Martin Gardner writing in "The Unexpected Hanging" (Simon & Schuster, 1969)
  2. ^ See "Dissections: Plane & Fancy", Greg N. Frederickson (Cambridge University Press, 1997)