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The Papers of Sir Hermann Bondi

Reference Code: GBR/0014/BOND

Scope and Contents

The papers include: material relating to Bondi's Mastership of Churchill College; personal material; some correspondence on scientific matters; texts and other papers from Bondi's lectures, speeches and seminars; papers relating to Bondi's position as Chief Scientist for the Department of Energy; publications by Bondi and others; research papers on topics including the Thames Barrage/London Flood Barrier, British Rail, and the Severn Barrage; papers relating to Bondi's membership of various scientific, educational and academic bodies; material on Bondi's interests in ecology and the environment and in the alternative to nuclear arms.


  • Creation: 1923 - 2007


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open, with some restrictions, for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holder and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Hermann Bondi was born 1 November 1919, the son of the late Samuel and Helene Bondi. He was educated at the Realgymnasium in Vienna then Trinity College, Cambridge where he became a fellow in 1943. In 1947 he married Christine Stockman, with whom he had two sons and three daughters.

His varied career has included: work as Temporary Experimental Officer for the Admiralty (1942-45); Assistant Lecturer in Mathematics, Cambridge University (1945-48), Lecturer (1948-54); Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (1943-49, 1952-54); Professor of Mathematics King's College, London (1954-); Director General of ESRO (1967-71); Chief Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Defence (1971-77); Chief Scientist for the Dept of Energy (1977-80); Chairman and Chief Executive of NERC (1980-84); Research Associate (1951); and later Visiting Professor of Cornell University (1960).

From 1983-1990 Professor Bondi was Master of Churchill College, Cambridge and continued as a Fellow of the College.

His honours have included: KCB 1973; FRS 1959; FRAS; Einstein Society Gold Medal (1983); Gold Medal of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (1988); the G.D. Birla International Award for Humanism (1990); the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (2002).

Publications range from "The Steady State Theory of the Expanding Universe" (with Professor Thomas Gold) in the 1940s, "The Universe at Large" 1961, "Relativity and Common Sense" 1964, "Assumption and Myth in Physical Theory" in 1968 (with Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw), editor of The Universe Unfolding in 1998, as well as various articles in the humanist press. Professor Bondi's autobiography, "Science, Churchill and me" was published in 1990.

Sir Hermann died on 10 September 2005, aged 85.


147 archive box(es)

Language of Materials



The original order of the papers has been broadly retained, with files being arranged within subject areas, and, where possible, by date.

Other Finding Aids

A copy of this finding aid is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Professor Sir Hermann Bondi were deposited at Churchill Archives Centre in several separate acquisitions between 1983 and 2012.


1 archive box relating to Bondi's M.Phil supervisions was destroyed in 2013 as it related solely to students' work and should duplicate similar material at Cambridge University Graduate School. Invoices removed from BOND 1/34 were destroyed in 2013. Old lists of files were removed from a recent accession and added to the collection file in 2013.


This collection (fonds) level description of the papers was compiled by Jude Brimmer of Churchill Archives Centre in 2003. Information obtained from Professor Bondi's entry in Who's Who 1897-1996 (A&C Black) and from the papers. The catalogue was prepared and the papers sorted according to a draft list drawn up by Joan Bullock-Anderson. The catalogue was converted from typescript to electronic form by Caroline Herbert in 2006. Further material was added to the catalogue by Caroline Herbert in 2009 and Madelin Terrazas in 2011-2013.

Additional information to help with cataloguing was received from Paula Halson in 2012, including that Bondi's children often referred to their parents as Hermann and Christine. Further information was received from Wolfgang Rindler in 2013 to help with cataloguing Bondi's notebooks (section 21).


Bondi, Sir Hermann, 1919-2005, Knight, mathematician, astronomer


2003-10-06 08:42:58+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087