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Sir Christopher Sydney Cockerell, C.B.E., R.D.I. 4 June 1910 — 1 June 1999

Raymond L. Wheeler

Elected F.R.S. 1986


Christopher Sydney Cockerell was born in Cambridge on 4 June 1910. His father, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, was at that time Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, a position he was to hold for nearly 30 years. He had formerly been secretary to William Morris and the Kelmscott Press. His mother was a talented artist known for her superb illuminated manuscripts. Christopher was an only son, with two sisters. His distinguished father's very strong personality made early relationships with him rather difficult. Fortunately he adored his mother, who had a profound influence on him. The Cockerell household entertained many distinguished visitors such as George Bernard Shaw, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Freya Stark and Siegfried Sassoon. Sir Sydney was very disappointed when Christopher showed very little interest in literature, public affairs and other aesthetic pursuits of such visitors. It was only when T.E. Lawrence stayed at their home that he showed an interest—this was in Lawrence's 1000 cc Brough Superior motorcycle, which caused his father to remark that Christopher was ‘no better than a garage hand’ (Blunt 1964).

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