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Collection Level Description: Correspondence and papers of Sir Alister Clavering Hardy

Reference: MSS. Eng. misc. a. 33(R), b. 445-451, c. 1046-1108, d. 1460-1466, e. 1638-1645, f. 866-868, g. 358-361, MS. Film 1823-1824
Title: Correspondence and papers of Sir Alister Clavering Hardy
Dates of Creation: 1901-1985
Extent: 95 boxes
Language of Material: English

Administrative/Biographical History

Alister Clavering Hardy was born in Nottingham in 1896. He attended Oundle School and entered Exeter College, Oxford, in 1914. On the outbreak of war he volunteered for the army, where he served in the northern cyclist battalion, and as a camouflage officer. He returned to Oxford in 1919 to study zoology. In 1920 he was awarded the Christopher Welch Scholarship, and he spent six months in Naples as Oxford biological scholar at Stazione Zooligica. He graduated with distinction in 1921.

In 1921 Hardy was appointed Assistant Naturalist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Lowestoft. In 1924 he became Chief Zoologist to the Colonial Office Discovery expedition, to study the biology of the Antarctic whales. He returned to England in 1927.

In 1928 Hardy was appointed Professor of Zoology in the newly-founded University College of Hull. This position was changed to Professor of Zoology and Oceanography in 1931. He resigned from this post in 1942 to take up the Regius Chair in Natural History at Aberdeen University. In 1946 he became Linacre Professor of Zoology at Oxford University. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1940, and knighted in 1957. In 1961 he became Professor of Zoological Field Studies at Oxford, retiring in 1963.

With the Gifford Lectures given at Aberdeen 1963-1964 and 1964-1965 and their publication as The Living Stream and The Divine Flame in 1965 and 1966, Hardy's career moved more strongly towards the study of evolutionary theory, natural theology and the biological basis of religious behaviour. In 1968 he set up the Religious Experience Research Unit at Manchester College, Oxford, to assemble and analyse religious experiences, and most of his later writings were about the work of the Unit and his own beliefs. This aspect of his life work was crowned by the award of the Templeton Prize for 1985, which enabled the work to continue under a fitting change of name as the Alister Hardy Research Centre. Hardy himself, then 89, lived to make preparations and compose his address for the award ceremony, but was not well enough to be present and died a week later, in May 1985.

Scope and Content

Biographical and autobiographical:

Zoology and marine biology:

Religion and the paranormal:

Patents, inventions, and ideas

Other interests:

Non-print material:

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The material was received at various dates July 1986 - February 1988 from Mr. Michael Hardy and Mrs. Belinda Farley (son and daughter).

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Access Points




Hardy | Alister Clavering | 1896-1985 | scientist and theologian

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