Rodney Hill was born on 11 June 1921 in Leeds, and educated at Leeds Grammar School. He went up to Cambridge University in October 1939, with a Major Scholarship at Pembroke College. He graduated BA with first-class honours in 1942 in the Mathematical Tripos. Volunteering for war work immediately, he worked in full-time government service on ballistics in the Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory, and on the plasticity of metals in the Cavendish Laboratory. In 1943 he moved to the Armament Research Department at Fort Halstead in Kent, for three years. Here he was involved in, for example, the modelling of armour penetration by projectiles. This established his expertise in the Mathematical Theory of Plasticity, in which he became a world-recognized leader via the writing of a renowned book with that title (still in print after 60 years) and 170 research articles with eventually 26 collaborators. He had more than 10 research students. In 1963 he wrote a textbook, Principles of dynamics, based on his lectures to undergraduates. Subsequent appointments were at the British Iron and Steel Research Association in Sheffield, at Bristol University, and then as Professor of Applied Mathematics at Nottingham University (1953–62), and at Cambridge University. He retired in 1979 but continued with active research for more than another 20 years. Hill was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1961, whose Royal Medal he received in 1993. He received the Honorary Degree of DSc from the Universities of Manchester (1976) and Bath (1978). He was awarded the von Karman Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1978, and the Panetti Medal of the Turin Academy in 1988. In 1982 The Rodney Hill 60th Anniversary Volume called Mechanics of solids was published, edited by H. G. Hopkins and M. J. Sewell. It contains 19 articles by 23 contributors in 693 pages. The Rodney Hill Prize in Solid Mechanics (US $25 000, at four-yearly intervals) has been established by Elsevier Ltd. It was awarded first in 2008 (Ortiz) and then in 2012 (Gao). A principal relaxation of Hill for 50 years was in extended botanical expeditions with his wife, Jeanne, in many parts of the English countryside, searching for, and identifying and recording, many species of wild flowers and fungi; and in the cultivation of a garden at home. Rodney Hill married Jeanne Wickens in 1945. She died in 2003. They had one daughter, Caroline, who survives them. Rodney died in Cambridge on 2 February 2011.
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