George Cunliffe McVittie

Quick Info

5 June 1904
Smyrna, Turkey (now Izmir)
8 March 1988
Canterbury, Kent, England

George McVittie studied at Edinburgh and Cambridge. He then held posts at Leeds, Edinburgh and London and became Professor of Astronomy at the University of Illinois. His main work was in Relativity and Cosmology.


George McVittie's parents were Frank S McVittie and Emily Caroline Weber. George entered the University of Edinburgh in 1923. There he studied mathematics and natural philosophy (physics), strongly influenced by his lecturers E T Whittaker and C G Darwin. He graduated in 1928 with an M.A., and then studied for a doctorate, beginning work in Edinburgh with Whittaker as advisor, and continuing at Christ's College Cambridge with Eddington as his advisor. In 1934 McVittie married Mildred Bond Strong.

McVittie held appointments as follows: Assistant Lecturer at Leeds University 1930-34; Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh 1933-34; Reader at King's College, University of London 1936-48; Professor at Queen Mary's College, University of London 1948-52; Professor at Illinois University Observatory 1952-1972; and Honorary Professor at the University of Kent at Canterbury 1972-1988.

McVittie was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 1 March 1943, having been proposed by David Gibb, Ivor M H Etherington, Robert Schlapp, and Alexander C Aitken. He was a member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, being elected in December 1927. He was also a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, being elected in 1933.

An obituary, written by M A H MacCallum, appeared in: George Cunliffe McVittie (1904-1988) (obituary), Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 30 (3) (1989), 119-122.
We present a version at THIS LINK.

Another obituary of George Cunliffe McVittie, this time written by William McCrea, appeared in The Independent on Friday 11 March 1988.
We give a version at THIS LINK.

Notes on some of McVittie's papers are given at THIS LINK.

References (show)

  1. R Chisholm, George McVittie: Honorary Professor, University of Kent, Vistas Astronom. 33 (1) (1990), 79-81.
  2. W Davidson, George McVittie's work in relativity, Vistas Astronom. 33 (1) (1990), 65-69.
  3. R Hide, Brief comments on George McVittie's meteorological papers, Vistas Astronom. 33 (1) (1990), 63-64.
  4. E Knighting, War work, 1940-1945, Vistas Astronom. 33 (1) (1990), 59-62.
  5. M A H MacCallum, George Cunliffe McVittie (1904-1988), Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 30 (3) (1989), 119-122.
  6. W McCrea, George Cunliffe McVittie (1904-88) O.B.E., F.R.S.E., Pupil of Whittaker and Eddington: pioneer of modern cosmology, Vistas Astronom. 33 (1) (1990), 43-58.
  7. W McCrea, Obituary: George Cunliffe McVittie, The Independent (11march 1988).
  8. D E Osterbrock, L W Fredrick, F K Edmondson and M Schwarzchild, McVittie and the American Astronomical Society, Vistas Astronom. 33 (1) (1990), 75-77.
  9. S K Runcorn, George McVittie: his breadth of scientific interest, Vistas Astronom. 33 (1) (1990), 39-42.
  10. J M Sánchez-Ron, George McVittie, the uncompromising empiricist, in The universe of general relativity (Einstein Stud., 11, Birkhäuser Boston, Boston, MA, 2005), 189-221.

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Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update November 2007