Biography of Professor Albert Einstein
Einstein in the quadrangle after his Honorary graduation in 1933. Pictured with the Rt.Hon. Sir Robert Stevenson Horne, Heriot, and Harry Lumsden.
The great theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow in 1933.
Einstein was nominated for the LLD in 1932 and travelled to Glasgow to accept it in 1933. On 20 June 1933 he delivered the inaugural Gibson Lecture in the History of Mathematics, before graduating the following day.
The Scotsman newspaper covered both events at the time. Of Einstein’s Gibson lecture, the Newspaper reported that:
‘The Bute Hall, which has accommodation for 1500 persons, was crowded to capacity when Professor Einstein appeared…Professor Einstein said; “I was very glad to accept the invitation to say something about the history of my own scientific work. Not that I have an unduly high opinion of the importance of my own endeavours…it would be a mistake, from a sense of false modesty, to pass by an opportunity to put the story on record.”’ (The Scotsman 21st June 1933)
The day after the graduation ceremony, the Scotsman described the scene: ‘Einstein, with his shock of grey hair and dressed in his scarlet robes, made an arresting figure as he walked forward to be capped by Principal Sir Robert S. Rait. The cheering which greeted his appearance lasted for several seconds, and was acknowledged by a shy smile from the famous savant.’(The Scotsman 22nd June 1933)
We have a photograph of the graduation ceremony in our John S. Allison collection (DC399/2) and we have a copy of the Honorary Graduation programme for 1933 with Einstein's picture in. We also have a letter from Einstein declining to become a candidate for rector of the university (DC94/6/14).
Special Collections on level 12 of the University Library hold a copy of the Gibson Lecture Einstein gave at the University of Glasgow in which he talked about general relativity and the history of his own scientific work. This was the first Gibson Lecture, delivered on the 20th June 1933.
Professor Albert Einstein
Born 14 March 1879, Ulm, Germany.
Died 18 April 1955.
University Link: Honorary Graduate
GU Degree: LLD, 1933;
Honours: Nobel Prize
Occupation categories: Theoretical Physicist
Record last updated: 7th Feb 2017