Arnold Wolfendale

Arnold Wolfendale bigraphy, stories - British physicist

Arnold Wolfendale : biography

25 June 1927 –

Sir Arnold Whittaker Wolfendale FRS (born 25 June 1927, Rugby, Warwickshire GRO Register of Births: SEP 1927 6d 1198a RUGBY – Arnold W. Wolfendale, mmn = Hoyle) is a British astronomer who served as Astronomer Royal from 1991 to 1995. He was president of the European Physical Society (1999 – 2001).


Wolfendale was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1973, and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1977. He served as Astronomer Royal from 1991 to 1995. In 1992, Wolfendale retired from teaching, and he was knighted in 1995. In 1996 he became Professor of Experimental Physics with the Royal Institution of Great Britain. A lecture theatre in Durham University’s new Calman Learning Centre has been named in his honour. He is a honorary DSc of Bucharest University and forein member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Early life

His family moved to Flixton, Lancashire when he was 18 months. He attended Stretford Grammar School in Manchester. Wolfendale was graduated with a BSc in physics from the University of Manchester in 1948, followed by a PhD in 1953 and a DSc in 1970.

Personal life

He married Audrey Darby in 1951. They had twin sons. His wife died in 2007. He is also patron of the Durham Dramatic Society, an amateur theatre troupe which is a member of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain. They have also met Ian McKellan.


During his career he held academic posts at the universities of Manchester (1951–6), Durham (1956–92), Ceylon and Hong Kong, and was head of department at Durham where he remains an emeritus professor. He was Professor of Physics at Durham from 1965–92.