Douglas Rayner Hartree. 1897-1958
Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society
D ouglas Rayner Hartree was born in Cam bridge on 27 M arch 1897, and he died also in Cam bridge on 12 February 1958. His genealogy furnishes an adm irable illustration of the principle of heredity in ability, for he could claim to inherit m any of his gifts and his scientific tastes from one or other of his parents. His father, who was a grandson of the famous Samuel Smiles, was for m any years on the teaching staff of the Engineering Laboratory a t C am bridge. He had retired from these
... in 1913, bu t on the advent of w ar in 1914 he took up work in the team led by Professor A. V. Hill which was studying anti-aircraft gunnery and cognate matters. This brought his son Douglas into the same team , and started him on the lines of doing num erical com putation. After the w ar W illiam H artree co-operated with A. V. Hill in physiological experiments for a time, and then joined his son in num erical work. This he continued almost till his death in 1943, bu t the relationship was an exceptional one, because the son was the leader and the father ranked as the ju nior in this work. His m other, originally Eva Rayner, was daughter of a prom inent physician in Stockport, and sister of E. H . R ayner who for m any years was Superintendent of the Electricity Division of the N ational Physical L abora tory. She herself was active in public service and in various women's organi zations. She was at one time M ayor of Cam bridge and she also served for a time as President of the N ational Council of W omen. These rem arkable parents had three sons, of whom Douglas was the eldest. T he other two unhappily have not survived. He was educated, first in Cam bridge and later at Bedales School, Petersfield, from 1910-15. He attributed to the excellent teaching of this school, in particular in m athe matics, the actual trend of all his tastes in later life. He entered St J o h n 's College Cam bridge, as a M ajor Scholar in 1915, bu t at the end of his first year his course was interrupted by the w ar and he went into the team of A. V. Hill which has been referred to above. He returned to Cam bridge after the war and graduated in 1921, having obtained First Class Honours in Part I of the M athem atical Tripos, but, no doubt on account of the disturbance of his career by the war, only Second Class Honours in P art II of the N atural Sciences Tripos.