◀ ▲ ▶History / 20th-century / Person: Ollerenshaw, Kathleen Timpson
Person: Ollerenshaw, Kathleen Timpson
Kathleen Ollerenshaw was an English mathematician and educationalist who overcame deafness and went on to become an important political advisor. She was elected Lord Mayor of Manchester.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Kathleen was good at mathematics, and had always found pleasure in patterns and numbers.
- Kathleen considers her deafness to be one of the reasons that she took to mathematics so keenly; it was one of the few subjects in which she was not disadvantaged due to her deafness.
- Mathematics was not Kathleen's only passion whilst at school.
- When Kathleen was thirteen years old she entered St Leonard's, a prestigious girl's boarding school in St Andrews, Scotland.
- Kathleen developed a technique that proved useful throughout her lifetime.
- In July 1930, at the age of 17, after taking her Higher School Certificate, Kathleen left St Leonard's and applied to Oxford and Cambridge to study mathematics.
- In August, Kathleen went as a representative of St Leonard's school to a conference on disarmament held for sixth formers at the League of Nations Headquarters in Geneva.
- Kathleen returned home and took up ice-skating, gaining many medals in both figure skating and ice dancing.
- When it came to the Cambridge interview, however, Kathleen scraped through without anyone knowing she was deaf, but struggled to lip-read the questions.
- In her first term at Oxford, Robert and Kathleen got engaged.
- At the beginning of 1936 Kathleen went out to Germany to learn to ski.
- In September 1936, Kathleen started research on cotton for the Shirley Institute on a temporary basis.
- In 1949, Ollerenshaw was given one of the first hearing aids, which completely revolutionised her life.
- In 1951, Ollerenshaw began her life of public service when she became a member of the governing body of St Leonard's school; she was president 1981-2003.
- In 1954, Robert and Kathleen bought a house in the Lake District which became their weekend retreat, and the main place that Kathleen did her mathematics.
- Later that year, Ollerenshaw became a co-opted member of Manchester Education Committee.
- In 1960, Kathleen joined the Central Advisory Council for Education.
- Ollerenshaw was elected to the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education governing council in May 1963.
- Ollerenshaw was interested in the educational system in the USA and arranged that in her free time she could visit various schools and leading educators.
- It was here she learned of the Stanford research project that was being established to measure the standards of mathematics teaching in countries across the world, precisely Kathleen's area of interest.
- With sponsorship from the British Council, Ollerenshaw went out to Japan to see for herself the reasons for the success of the Japanese educational system.
- In 1970, Kathleen was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to education.
- In June 1972, Dame Kathleen started a part time senior research fellowship at Lancaster University in the Department of Educational Research, and in the following year she became the first chairman of the new Greater Manchester County St John Ambulance Brigade.
- Dame Kathleen was elected Lord Mayor of Manchester in May 1975.
- It was through the IMA, that Dame Kathleen first met Hermann Bondi, with whom she later started her work on magic squares.
- In her presidential address, The Magic of Mathematics, Dame Kathleen discusses the beauty of mathematics, and her experiments with soap film bubbles.
- As a result of her work on the Rübik cube, Dame Kathleen injured her thumb.
- In 1982, Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw and Hermann Bondi published a paper, Magic squares of order four, in which they prove the conjecture of Frénicle de Bessy showing that there are 880 essentially different normal magic squares of order 4.
- This led Dame Kathleen to consider magic squares of higher orders.
Born 1 October 1912, Manchester, England. Died 10 August 2014, Didsbury, Manchester,England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin England, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive