Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Although he made important contributions to biology and classical literature, Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson is best known for using mathematics and physics to study the structure, function, and development of living things. His father was a classical scholar and educator, and his mother was the daughter of a veterinary surgeon. D’Arcy’s mother died giving birth to him, and he consequently formed an intensely strong bond with his father, who profoundly influenced his son’s character and career. The elder Thompson, a passionate humanist with advanced views on education, was fluent in Latin and Greek, which he taught to his young son, who learned to read, write, and speak these classical languages with astonishing ease. After attending Edinburgh Academy, the young Thompson entered the University of Edinburgh as a medical student in 1877.
In 1880 Thompson won a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge University, where he studied zoology under Francis M. Balfour and physiology under Michael Foster. In 1883, he achieved first-class honors in his exams for his B.A. degree, and during the following year he taught physiology under Foster’s direction. He began his sixty-four-year association with University College, Dundee, in 1884, when he was appointed professor of biology. (When this college was incorporated into the University of St. Andrews in 1917, he assumed the chair of natural history at the united college.) In Dundee, he compiled a...
(The entire section is 1341 words.)
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Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 2, 1860. He was raised in a family active in medicine, science, and the arts. His father, who held positions first as a classical master at Edinburgh Academy and then as a professor of Greek at Queens College, Galway, was influential in his life, as was his maternal grandfather, who provided him with a scientific background.
Thompson attended Edinburgh Academy and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, publishing papers in scientific journals on hydroid taxonomy, or the classification of invertebrate animals, at age nineteen. Eventually leaving Edinburgh, Thompson attended Trinity College, Cambridge, where he tutored Greek to pay for his tuition. He also translated Herman Müller’s German work ‘‘The Fertilisation of Flowers,’’ which was published with a preface by the naturalist Charles Darwin.
Thompson began his career as a professor of biology at the University College in Dundee in 1884. He worked at the university throughout his life, establishing a teaching museum of zoology and writing papers on various zoological subjects. In 1896, Thompson traveled to Alaska to investigate a dispute between Great Britain and the United States over fur-seal expeditions. The following year, he was recognized for his efforts, earning the title of Companion of the Order of Bath in 1898, and in that same year, he was also appointed scientific adviser to the Fishery...
(The entire section is 433 words.)