Mary Bradburn

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Mary Bradburn FRAS (1918–2000)[1][2] was a British mathematics educator who became president of the Mathematical Association for the 1994–1995 term.[3][1]

Education and career[edit]

Bradburn was born on 17 March 1918 in Normanby in North Yorkshire, the daughter of a marine engineer and a Scotswoman.[2][4] She attended a school that didn't approve of girls studying mathematics, but allowed her to progress through the mathematics curriculum at her own rate, several years ahead of the other students.[4]

She earned a state scholarship, but at 17, she was below the required age for Oxford and Cambridge, so she ended up going to Royal Holloway College.[2][4] She was a student there beginning in 1935 and, despite multiple extracurricular activities, earned first class honours in mathematics in 1938, and completed a master's degree there in 1940.[2]

With another scholarship from the University of London, she went to the University of Edinburgh for graduate study with Max Born, beginning in 1941; her dissertation was The Statistical Thermodynamics of Crystal Lattices.[2] She taught briefly at Edinburgh and the University of Dundee before returning to Royal Holloway as an instructor in 1945. She remained at Royal Holloway through its 1965 transition from a women's college to a coeducational one (a change that she supported), until her retirement in 1980.[2][4]

Recognition and legacy[edit]

She became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1955.[1] The mathematics department of Royal Holloway offers an annual prize to undergraduates, the Mary Bradburn Prize, named in her memory.[5] The British Federation of Women Graduates also offers a Mary Bradburn Prize, from a bequest left by Bradburn.[6]


  1. ^ a b c McNally, D., "Mary Bradburn 1918–2000: Fellow of the RAS, gifted teacher of mathematics", Obituaries, Astronomy & Geophysics, 41 (6): 36, doi:10.1093/astrog/
  2. ^ a b c d e f Hebborn, John (March 2001), "Mary Bradburn 1918-2000", The Mathematical Gazette, 85 (502): 126–127, doi:10.1017/s0025557200167427, JSTOR 3620495
  3. ^ Presidents of the Association, Mathematical Association, retrieved 2018-10-06
  4. ^ a b c d Cooley, Pam (17 March 1995), "Royal life of the president", Times Educational Supplement, retrieved 2018-10-10
  5. ^ Information for current student: Prizes, Royal Holloway Mathematics, retrieved 2018-10-10
  6. ^ Roper, Beryl (January 2002), "Dr Mary Bradburn" (PDF), BFWG News, p. 6