Catalogue description Catalogue of the notebooks of WILFRID BENNETT LEWIS FRS (1908 - 1987)

This record is held by Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives

Details of NCUACS.8.1.89
Reference: NCUACS.8.1.89
Title: Catalogue of the notebooks of WILFRID BENNETT LEWIS FRS (1908 - 1987)

The collection consists of the twenty-three notebooks Lewis left in the care of his brother Mr J A Lewis when he emigrated to Canada in 1946. The notebooks contain chiefly lecture notes and practical work for Lewis's undergraduate degree courses at Cambridge 1927-30. Notebook 1 contains physics notes which predate his university career and notebook 22 contains postgraduate work. Lectures by G F C Searle are identified in notebooks 11 and 12.


Compiled by Peter Harper and Timothy E Powell


The work of the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, and the production of this catalogue, are made possible by the support of the following societies and organisations


The Biochemical Society


The British Library


The City of Bath


The Geological Society


The Institute of Physics


Pergamon Books


The Royal Society


The Royal Society of Chemistry


The Society of Chemical Industry


We are very grateful to Mr J A Lewis and Mr R T Lewis for making the material available and Sir Bernard Lovell and Sir Brian Pippard for information and advice.

Date: 1926 - 1931
Related material:

The material assembled by Sir Bernard Lovell for the Royal Society memoir of Lewis will be deposited with the remainder of Sir Bernard's papers in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.

Held by: Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Lewis, Wilfred Bennett, 1908-1987, scientist and physicist

Immediate source of acquisition:

The collection was received in March 1988 via Mr R T Lewis, University of Bath, nephew of W B Lewis.

  • Nuclear physics
Administrative / biographical background:

Wilfrid Bennett Lewis was born 24 June 1908 at Castle Carrock in Cumbria. He was educated at Haileybury College before entering Gonville and Caius College Cambridge in 1927 to read for the Natural Sciences Tripos, studying Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics for Part I and specialising in Physics for Part II. Lewis received his BA (Hons) in 1930.


Following graduation Lewis began research on radioactivity at the Cavendish Laboratory. He was awarded his PhD in 1934 for work on the analysis of alpha-particle groups, and the same year was elected a Research Fellow of Gonville and Caius College. Lewis was appointed University Demonstrator in Physics 1935 and University Lecturer 1937.


On the outbreak of war Lewis, since July 1939 a Senior Scientific Officer with the Air Ministry Establishment (later to become the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE), Malvern), began work on improvements in radar. He was appointed Principal Scientific Officer 1940, Superintendent of TRE 1943 and Chief Superintendent 1945.


In September 1946 Lewis resigned to take up the Directorship of the Division of Atomic Energy of the National Research Council of Canada. He was appointed Vice-President of Research and Development of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited in 1952 and Senior Vice-President 1963. On his retirement in 1973 he took up a chair as Distinguished Professor of Science at Queen's University, Ontario. Lewis died in 1987.


Among the many honours accorded to Lewis in recognition of his scientific achievement were the Fellowship of the Royal Society 1945 (awarded the Society's Royal Medal in 1972), CBE 1946, the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada 1952 and the 1967 Atoms for Peace Award.


For a full account of the life and work of Lewis see Sir Bernard Lovell and D G Hurst 'Wilfrid Bennett Lewis 1908-1987', Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 34, 1988.

Link to NRA Record:

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