Sir James Jeans: A Biography

Sir James Jeans: A Biography

Sir James Jeans: A Biography

Sir James Jeans: A Biography

Excerpt

Born on 11 September 1877 at Ormskirk, Lancashire, James Hopwood Jeans came of a family of journalists. Both his grandfather and his great-grandfather had owned newspapers and his father's cousin, Sir Alexander Jeans, had been proprietor of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo . His father,William Tulloch Jeans, was a parliamentary journalist, representing the Globe in the press gallery of the House of Commons. He had a remarkable knowledge of parliamentary procedure and his Fleet Street colleagues always turned to him in their troubles. He was also a keen student of economics and his published works included The Lives of Electricians and Creators of the Age of Steel .

James's mother, from whom he derived the name Hopwood, came from Stockport and belonged to an evangelical family. Her great-great-great-grandfather had been an Independent minister in Cromwell's time and his small chapel, now used as a school, still stands at Marple, Cheshire. For a time, during James's infancy, his parents lived at Brighton. When he was three years old, they moved to London, living first at Tulse Hill and afterwards at Clapham Park.

James was a precocious child. He could tell the time at the age of three and could read when he was four. He seized upon anything that came his way, even a Times leading article which he would read aloud to his parents. The home atmosphere was strictly Victorian, especially in relation to religious observance, and James, naturally shy, began to develop his own interests. He took long walks in London and bicycled into the surrounding country. Later, he accompanied his father very happily on walking tours and the father never ceased to encourage the boy's intellectual development.

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