First World War lectures

Two lectures on the subject of members of Trinity and their connections with the First World War were given in Michaelmas term.

Moseley’s Law — Professor Justin Wark, Fellow and Tutor in Physics, spoke about, explaining the discoveries and contribution to science of Henry Moseley(Millard Scholar, 1906), the most famous and accomplished Physicist ever to have studied at Trinity. It is generally acknowledged that had it not been for his untimely death at Gallipoli in the First World War, he would have won the Nobel Prize for Physics. In the space of a few short months in 1913 and 1914, he solved one of the greatest scientific mysteries of his time: he determined a method to order correctly the elements of the periodic table. Such was his contribution to science, that Isaac Asimov once said that Moseley’s death was ‘…the most costly single death of the War to mankind generally’.

Details of a podcast of the lecture are given below.

Laurence Binyon and For the Fallen — Professor Michael Alexander (1959), former Berry Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, spoke about Laurence Binyon, who came up to Trinity as a Scholar in 1888 and who published his first book of poems as an undergraduate. He continued to write poetry throughout his life, although his primary career was as a curator in the British Museum. Binyon knew Flanders well and was deeply affected by the losses suffered in the early weeks of the First World War. Remarkably, his famous poem ‘For the Fallen’ was written only a few weeks after the conflict started. Published in The Times on 21 September 1914, Binyon’s prescient words had an immediate impact on the nation’s feelings about the war.

After the war, Binyon continued to publish poetry, and books on oriental art. He retired from the British Museum in 1933, and the same year was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Trinity. He continued writing and lecturing; in 1939 he delivered the Romanes Lectures, on ‘Art and Freedom’. He died in 1943, aged 73.

An article on the same subject by Professor Alexander will appear in the next edition of the Trinity College Report.


Posted: 1 December 2014

Professor Wark: podcast

A recording of the lecture given by Professor Wark is available on Youtube.