Royal Society Publishing

Arthur Geoffrey Walker. 17 July 1909 — 31 March 2001

Nigel J. Hitchin

Elected FRS 1955


Arthur Geoffrey Walker was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, on 17 July 1909, and attended Watford Grammar School, from where he won in 1928 an Open Mathematical Scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. There, his tutor was John William Nicholson FRS, who had been a professor at King's College, London, and was one of the first mathematical physicists to relate quantum theory to atomic spectra. However, in the late 1920s he was suffering from a psychiatric illness and in 1930 was hospitalized, so that Walker had to study on his own a great deal. This perhaps influenced his subsequent method of working on mathematics, which he normally did in the privacy of his room rather than in active consultation with others. He obtained a Second in Moderations, but in 1930 won a Junior Mathematical Exhibition and in 1931 took a First with a Distinction in the special subject of differential geometry, which was to become his life's work. Eisenhart's book Riemannian geometry (Eisenhart 1926) became his bible and he continually referred to it in many of his papers.