Ida Busbridge

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Ida Winifred Busbridge (born February 10, 1908 in Plumstead , England , † December 27, 1988 in London Borough of Bromley , England) was a British mathematician and professor who taught at Oxford University from 1935 to 1970. She was the first woman to be awarded an Oxford scholarship in mathematics.

Life and research

Busbridge was the youngest of four children and received her elementary education from 1914 at the London County Council School in Plumstead, where her mother worked as a primary school teacher after the death of her husband. In 1918 she attended Christ's Hospital in Hertford , which was co-educational until 1902 and an all-girls school at that time. In 1923 she received the Cambridge School Certificate and in 1925 the Higher School Certificate with Intermediate Exemption. In 1926, she studied mathematics at Royal Holloway College and received two scholarships, the Royal Holloway College Entrance Scholarship, which gave her £ 60 a year for three years, and a Christ's Hospital Scholarship, which gave her £ 50 a year for three years. In 1929 she was the top student in mathematics at the University of London and was awarded the Sir John Lubbock Prize. Not only was she the best student at Royal Holloway, but to win the Lubbock Prize she had to be number one of all math students at all of London's university colleges. In 1933 she received her M.Sc. Thesis on Fourier integrals, which was examined by Godfrey Harold Hardy as external examiner. She received the degree "with distinction". Based on the results of her thesis, she published the work on general transformations with Fourier-type kernels, which appeared in the Journal of the London Mathematical Society in 1934. After receiving a Masters Degree with Honors, she moved to Oxford in 1935 to teach mathematics at five women's colleges. For the next six years she worked as a lecturer and tutor, essentially working as a tutor at college, albeit without a title. During her apprenticeship at the University of Oxford , she worked to improve access to the university and increase the number of female math students at Oxford. She often overlooked lower grades when she felt the students were capable. During this time, students attending reputable paid schools often spent three years in their sixth grade before going to university, and many received extensive Oxford interview coaching. Gymnasiums, on the other hand, were usually limited in resources, so girls were often less prepared than their privately trained colleagues. During the Second World War she also trained physicists and engineers at Oxford, as other mathematicians at the university had been called up to special military service. Towards the end of the war, she was disappointed with the lack of academic opportunities at Oxford and applied for a job at Cambridge. In response, St Hugh's College eventually made her a Fellow and Tutor in 1945. In 1946 she was the first woman to receive a scholarship from St. Hugh's College, Oxford. In 1962 she was named a Doctor of Science by the University of Oxford. She was also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society . In 1964 she was president of the Mathematical Association .

Publications (selection)

  • IW Busbridge, Oxford Mathematics and Mathematicians, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, 1974.


  • G. Adam, DWN Stibbs: Ida Winifred Busbridge, February 10, 1908-27 December 1988, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 33 (4) (1992), 455-459.
  • St Hugh's College Oxford Chronicle 1939-40, 10.
  • E. Rayner: Obituary: Ida Winifred Busbridge 1908-1988, The Mathematical Gazette, 73 (466) (1989), 339-341.
  • MERayner: Women tutors in the 1940s and 1950s, Roundup: The Oxford Mathematics Newsletter (Spring 2018), 6.
  • R. Trickett: Memorial Address: Dr Ida Busbridge, St Hugh's Chronicle 1988-89 (62), 29-32.
  • B. White: Series 1: Ida Busbridge (1908–1988), Women in Oxford History (June 25, 2016).
  • K. Williams, Madge Adam: The Guardian (September 10, 2001).
  • Bruley, Sue: Women in Britain since 1900 (London: Macmillan, 1999).
  • Friedman, E. Clare: Strawberries and Nightingales with Buz: The Pioneering Mathematical Life of Ida Busbridge (1908–1988). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014, ISBN 978-1499693898 .

Web links