7.10.1 Hulme, Dr Henry Rainsford


The material omitted from Dr Henry Hulme's official biographies is as interesting, important and potentially as informative as the material contained in them. The reasons behind these omissions may be complicated and difficult to unravel, however-- this is a real man's life, not a neat work of fiction.

"Who's Who" entries are published only after being solicited by the publisher (in many circles, a sign that one has 'arrived' socially) and they contain information provided by the subject (but verified by the publisher). Complete omission of all personal information from a "Who's Who" listing is not unknown, though it is not common. However, selective omission of legitimate family members is unusual, particularly if those omitted are legitimate children though, again, it is not unknown. Including the names of divorced spouses is common practice, especially if there were children born in the marriage.

Dr Henry Hulme's first "Who's Who" entry was in 1974, the year following his retirement from Aldermaston at age 65. It might be expected that he would take this opportunity to create a full and lasting public record of his life, his family and his accomplishments, since many people take retirement as an opportunity for reflection and summing up of their life. It was an opportunity for him to make a formal, public statement about what was important and who was important in his life.

Whether or not Dr Henry Hulme would have modified his "Who's Who" entry today, with his second wife now dead and his daughter's new identity revealed, we shall never know. If there had been an estrangement between Dr Hulme and his daughter, Juliet/Anne, in the past--and there are certainly grounds to believe there was-- there is also reasonable evidence (see 7.10.2) that father and daughter had reconciled and were not strangers at the time of Dr Hulme's death in 1991. [jp]

Who's Who 1990

92N has death notice. jp]

born 9 Aug. 1908, [Southport, England. ad][died 8 Jan. 1991. jp]. Son of James Rainsford Hulme and Alice Jane Smith. Married 1955 Margery Alice Ducker [died ca. 1990. jp], daughter of late Sir James A. Cooper, KBE, and of Lady Cooper.

Manchester Grammar School; Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; University of Leipzig. BA (Math Tripos) 1929; Smiths' Prizeman, 1931; PhD (Cambridge) 1932; ScD (Cambridge) 1948. Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1933-38.

Chief Assistant Royal Observatory, Greenwich, 1938-45; on loan to Admiralty during WW II [Director of Naval Operational Research by War's end. jp]. Scientific Adviser Air Ministry, 1946-48.

Chief of Nuclear Research, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, 1959-73, retired.

on Mathematical Physics and Astronomy in learned journals. [Hulme, H.R. and Collieu, A. McB., "Nuclear Fusion," Wykeham Publications, London, 1969. jp]


[snip] near Basingstoke, Hants. U.K. [south-central, near Aldermaston and London. jp]

Other biographies

Dr Hulme also has an entry in:

G.H. Scholefield, ed., "Who's Who in New Zealand," A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1951. [ad]

The entry contains several errors, but does mention his position as Rector of Canterbury College, beginning in 1948, his marriage to Hilda and the name of her father, Rev J Reavley, and also the fact that the couple had one son and one daughter. The errors are identical to those made by Glamuzina and Laurie in their book, although G? do not list this source in their Bibliography, only "Who's Who."

There is also biographical data on Dr Hulme and information about his career in New Zealand in:

Gardner, W.J., Beardsley, E.T. and Carter, T.E. (ed. Phillips, N.C.), "A History of the University of Canterbury, 1873-1973," Christchurch, University of Canterbury, 1973. [ad]

where there is a brief C.V. for Dr Hulme as a footnote on p. 319:

Hulme, Henry Rainsford (1908-). Educ Manchester Grammar School. Univs of Cambridge (MA,PhD,ScD) and Leipzig; Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, 1931-7; lect in maths, Univ of Liverpool, 1936-8; Chief Asst, Royal Observatory, Greenwich, 1936-9; Admiralty Research, 1940-5; Director of Naval Operational Research, 1945; Scientific Adviser, Air Ministry, 1945-8; Rector CUC, 1948-54; subsequently Chief of Nuclear Research, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (Aldermaston).

There are obvious errors in the dates of Dr Hulme's positions early in his career, but the dates and titles of his academic and his post-war positions (immediately preceding the position at Canterbury University College) are probably correct because they would have been of most relevance to the Search Committee for Rector.

Analysis of conspicuous omissions from Dr Henry Hulme's "Who's Who" biography: [jp]

Dr Hulme's marriage to (in 1937) and divorce from Hilda Marion Reavley, and his children from that marriage, Juliet Marion Hulme and Jonathon Hulme, are missing from the entry. Since "Who's Who" is really all about establishing family history and legacy, this is a particularly significant omission. Hilda Marion Reavley came from a socially-prominent family; her father, Rev J Reavley had his own entry in "Who's Who," so Dr Hulme was forsaking association with social prominence by denying his connection with Hilda.

"Who's Who" does not list the names of children. The number of children of each sex are listed with the corresponding parent, however. So Henry Hulme's missing personal data would have appeared in "Who's Who" as: m, 1937 Hilda Marion Reavley (marr. diss. 195[4,5?]); one s, one d.

Hence, omitting H Marion Perry (nee Hilda Marion Reavley) from his entry automatically omitted his son, Jonathon, and his daughter, Juliet. His second marriage was childless, so this omission robbed Dr Hulme of all mention of his heirs. The negative impact on his legacy resulting from these omissions obviously did not outweigh his desire to obliterate all record of his marriage to Hilda Hulme from his official biography.

There is evidence that Dr Hulme reconciled with his daughter in the years following his first "Who's Who" entry, made in 1974. The entry was not changed over the years, however.

Positions from PhD in 1932 and during 'Fellow of Caius College' (1933-38) are missing. Being a 'Fellow' of a Cambridge College is largely honorary, usually involving few real duties or responsibilities. Hence, there may have been independent research performed at Cambridge in this time, or work performed with other scientists or other positions not deemed worthy of mention. Scientifically, the thirties were heady, exciting days in physics--quantum mechanics was flowering, statistical physics was progressing rapidly, solid-state physics was developing into a respectable field, astronomy was exploding with new discoveries. We know that Dr Hulme was a brilliant mathematical physicist, so these 'golden years' of modern physics must have been some of the most exciting and satisfying of his career. Why were they glossed over? The post-doc or post at Leipzig is probably early in this period. A complete list of Dr Hulme's scientific publications will help to clear up many of the uncertainties in the dates of his academic/research appointments.

Glamuzina & Laurie state that Dr Hulme was a lecturer in Mathematics at Liverpool from '36-'38 (p. 41), as does the C.V. in "History of the University of Canterbury." This is probable, though '46-'48 is also a possibility. One probable reason for omitting the Liverpool post was simply that Dr Hulme met and married Hilda Reavley in this period, '36-'38.

JMH was born in Greenwich, London on October 28, 1938, when Dr Hulme was Chief Assistant at the Royal Observatory (1938-45). [note: G? state erroneously that JMH was born in Liverpool (p.42). jp] Hilda Hulme testified that JMH was 'bomb shocked' in 1940-1, when she was two, during the London blitz, so the family stayed together in Greenwich into the War and even into the blitz.

Jonathon was born on March 22, 1944, at which time Hilda Hulme suffered various serious health problems. It is possible that these may have been exacerbated by wartime and personal stress, and/or by post partum depression [note: my speculation, based on Hilda Hulme's wording in testimony. jp] Hilda Hulme testified at the trial that she was hospitalized after Jonathon's birth. She also testified that Dr Hulme had to travel to America when JMH was 5 3/4 years of age (i.e. ca August 1944). Finally, Hilda Hulme testified that she was separated from JMH because of her illness and "wartime conditions" and she also stated, once, in testimony, that JMH spent time in the North of England during the war.

So it would appear that the Hulme family stayed together in Greenwich through much of the war, but that JMH was probably sent away to live with another family for a period in the latter part of 1944 when both Hilda and Henry Hulme were unable to look after her. She may have been sent to a member of Hilda Hulme's family, or to a member of Henry Hulme's family. During WW II, many spouses and/or children were relocated to the British countryside to avoid the blitzes on the big cities, so this was not an unusual situation. Under ordinary circumstances JMH would have started her schooling a month before her 5th birthday, in October 1943. Hence, during the period she was probably sent away up North, late 1944, she would have been of school age.

JMH is described as a "former Liverpool schoolgirl" (part of the 'local/midlands' angle to the "Parker Hulme" murder that attracted the attention of the Manchester Guardian editorial staff), so it seems likely that JMH was sent to Liverpool at this time. If Henry and Hilda Hulme met while he was a lecturer in Liverpool, which seems likely, then JMH probably went to a member of the Reavley family. [note: I would really like to get Rev J Reavley's biography from Who's Who to fill in some of this background. jp] It was approximately at this time, winter '44- '45, that JMH became ill with bronchitis and then pneumonia almost to the point of death. Was she away from her family at the time? Is this also part of the connection between JMH's illnesses and her resentment and blame and her mother's obvious guilt over this illness?

Dr Hulme lists his occupation during 1946-48 as "Scientific Advisor" to the Air Ministry. This was a feather in Dr Hulme's cap but may have been equivalent to being an occasional consultant, or it may have been a full Whitehall (London) position. If it was only part-time then this also makes the period 1946-48 a possible, though less likely time for Dr Hulme to be a lecturer at Liverpool. [However, it should be noted that most sources suggest Dr Hulme went to Christchurch direct from the Air Ministry in London. sb]. JMH is sickly this whole time and does not attend school, according to trial testimony, having been removed from school between ages 6 and 8. She is sent to the Bahamas in winter '45-'46, so she would not have lived long in Liverpool. From the Bahamas, JMH is sent to New Zealand.

Note that the ScD(1948), in Dr Hulme's case, was probably a nod from Cambridge given to an old boy for outstanding academic contributions and/or achievements in his field (Mathematical Physics). Coming only 12 years after his PhD, (which took him the normal, for Britain, but still damn impressive 3 years) this is a sign of extremely vigorous, successful academic work. Typically, one is invited to put one's name up for consideration for this degree, so it also signifies acceptance into an upper academic clique. But the degree is not wholly symbolic or automatic (unlike Cambridge MAs, which Dr Hulme was awarded automatically upon paying his fee, but which he never even bothered to list, except on his job applications) and it signifies that he was an active, successful academic scientist. In fact, this kind of productive activity and kudos from one's peers are as much recognition as most active academic scientists aspire to in the early-to-mid stages of their careers. Given the biographical evidence suggesting Dr Hulme really did love his science passionately, omission of this period and the recognition of the science he performed is very significant to the eyes of a practicing scientist. The omission would have been made at some personal cost.

All positions between 1948 (Hulmes emigrate to NZ) and 1959 are missing--there is no attempt to gloss over this obvious void in Dr Hulme's curriculum vitae.

One obituary lists Dr Hulme in the post of Vice Chancellor of University of Otago, NZ from 1948-52(?). This has been confirmed to be an error--Henry Hulme never held this post [mk]. Dr Henry Hulme is mentioned only in passing in the history of the University of Otago, as the Rector of Canterbury University College and with respect to financial policy in NZ universities.

Morrell, William Parker. "The University of Otago: A Centennial History." U. of Otago Press, Dunedin, 1969. p. 171. [mk]

Indeed, it seems unlikely there could have been a Vice-Chancellorship at Otago at the time. (Incidentally, the Vice-Chancellor, despite the title, is in fact THE executive officer; the Chancellor is more of a ceremonial, figurehead and/or chairperson of the board -type figure.) In 1948, the four university colleges (Canterbury, Otago, Auckland and Victoria, at Wellington) were parts of the single University of New Zealand and that year, for the first time, full-time administrative positions were advertised to run each one, all to be called "Rector." The idea that he was VC at Otago comes from the Guardian obit by some peer of the realm to whom, I would venture a guess, Rector at Christchurch and Vice-Chancellor at Otago would have been much of a muchness. (Not like confusing Oxford and Cambridge, you understand). [sb]

Rector of Canterbury University College, Christchurch, NZ 1948- 54. A stunning omission, as the post of Rector is equivalent to (Vice) Chancellor or President. This is as high as academic administrative posts get at the level of an individual University College. This includes the time period covered in "Heavenly Creatures." Another argument for Dr Hulme having an academic post at Liverpool is the Christchurch post, of course, because the job requires experience in teaching, research and administration.

Press reports during the Hearing and Trial vary slightly but all mention that Dr Henry Hulme "resigned" from this post. Jackson has Dr Hulme state that he resigned in "Heavenly Creatures," more than once. Glamuzina & Laurie mention a forced resignation because of administrative friction and academic politics, citing documentation which proves Dr Hulme was informed he would not be supported by his faculty. A more complex and complete picture is painted by "A History of the University of Canterbury" (see, but it cannot be the whole story. Anne Perry insists in her NY Times interview, more than once, that her father "lost his job."

We may conclude that Dr Hulme's resignation was not given voluntarily. Although there was documented dissatisfaction and unrest accumulated over Dr Hulme's career as Rector, the Canterbury faculty may have taken the family scandal in the Hulme household to be the last straw--ironically, the scandal probably had little or nothing to do with JMH and PYP at all, but would have been because of Walter Perry's involvement with Hilda Hulme and his moving into the Hulme's house to live "as a threesome." [Early drafts of the script state Henry was pressured to resign because of this living arrangement. These scenes were not present in the NAm release of the film. lfr]

The period 1955-59 did involve work that was extremely sensitive to national security (see obituaries), so this particular omission might be the omission of a careful, discrete career administrator and consummate public servant.

Official Obituaries

Full obituaries in UK newspapers, and in The Times especially, are reserved for prominent members of the social establishment. By the time he died, Dr Henry Hulme had progressed up the social ladder to be an almost-full-fledged member of the British social establishment. Dr Hulme's prominence was due to his scientific and administrative accomplishments, however, not because of his family heritage. [note: This assessment was confirmed by Anne Perry in her remarks to me (see jp].

Henry Hulme had attended Manchester Grammar School--one of the 'officially-recognized' leading Public Schools. Today, it would be called a 'magnet' school whose function was to siphon off the absolute intellectual cream from Manchester and environs, drawing from the community at large and not just from the monied elite. Henry Hulme was not born into high privilege but he did work very hard and very successfully--and, possibly marry--his way toward it. His obituaries were written by his peers and reflect the sensibilities of the society in which he moved at the time of his death.

The tone and content of these pieces and, again, omissions from them, are extremely fertile ground for interpretation and analysis; every word will have been chosen carefully. Both of these newspapers, for example, carried accounts of the trial and both would have had files on Dr Hulme which would have contained that material.

Neither obituary makes mention of Dr Hulme's parents, a sure sign that the family had not been in the social elite. And neither mentions his children. It's not uncommon to find obituaries of the socially prominent which are simply catalogues of family members present and past. Dr Hulme's obituaries go out of their way to list his accomplishments, thereby justifying, to those who would not have known him, his entry into the elite world of people accorded full obituaries in the Times. Typical of such pieces, especially for scientists, Henry Hulme's personal life is relegated to a few aphorisms in a brief concluding paragraph.

The Guardian piece was written by a Peer, Sir Samuel Curran, who put in just enough 'insider' information to prove that he knew Henry Hulme personally and, in his mind, well; this gives Henry Hulme a posthumous seal of approval in wider Society at large. Henry Hulme's wife Margery isn't mentioned at all--not necessarily a snub, especially because she had died recently, and because scientists traditionally tend to keep separate their professional and personal lives. There is no mention of a position at Liverpool, or of Christchurch. However, the piece does mention a New Zealand post which Dr Hulme himself had excluded from his 'official' C.V.--one of the 'insider' clues and, as it happens, an error (see above). Another prominent 'insider' clue is the phrase 'In his company at home one realized...' And yet another 'insider' clue is the degree to which Henry Hulme's character traits, or at least those which were deemed suitable for discussing in an obituary, are intertwined with the descriptions of his career. [jp]

The Guardian, Wednesday January 23, 1991. p. 39.
"Scientist in the service of Aldermaston" by Sir Samuel Curran.

Henry Hulme, who retired in 1973 as Chief of Nuclear Research at AWRE (Atomic Weapons Research Establishment), did not fit the popular picture of a weapons scientist. His earlier career helps to explain why his style seemed in some ways at odds with his later activities.

Both at Manchester Grammar School and at Cambridge he showed outstanding talent in Mathematics and mathematical physics. He became Smith's Prizeman, gained his PhD and later ScD, and subsequently pursued studies at Leipzig.

He was appointed to the Greenwich Observatory but for most of the time he worked as a scientist on loan to the Admiralty, an experience shared with many of the best UK mathematical physicists. After the second world war, until 1948, he was Scientific Adviser to the Air Ministry. Throughout he showed himself equally at home in the world of academic science or applied science.

After some years in New Zealand as Vice Chancellor of Otago, he was lured by Sir William Penney into his small and brilliant group of scientists and mathematicians at Aldermaston. There Henry carved for himself a special niche as intermediary between the experimental scientists and the mathematicians, ensuring the best use of the best computers available.

In spite of his remarkable gifts he was always diffident in manner. Nonetheless his transparent intellectual honesty and lucidity of exposition made him an effective team leader. In the later 1950s Britain advanced its hydrogen weapon capability at an unrivalled rate. As in the second world war, so in AWRE, British science showed the same talent and inventive capability. Even now the public does not yet realise the awesome nuclear might that Britain possesses. With Hulme we lose a truly creative thinker.

He was a man of many talents and deep learning. In his company at home one realised the breadth of culture that he hid behind a natural humility and reserve. He was at his best when he was smoothing the path of young scientists, and giving them something of his particular teaching gift for simplifying problems.

The Times obituary is anonymous, so it was not written specially by a social luminary. That honour was bestowed on few, and Henry Hulme's social position certainly didn't rank that kind of treatment, according to the decision-makers at The Times, who are particularly attuned to such things. In fact, Dr Hulme's claims to the full obituary were tenuous enough for it to be virtually all history lesson, which was used to explain in detail why he should be accorded this honour.

The 'history lesson' in the piece is so obviously partisan, scientifically informed and gung-ho British that it must have been written by one of Dr Hulme's Aldermaston peers, perhaps in response to a request by The Times obituary staff who may not have had much positive material on file. The sentence that essentially says Henry Hulme did valuable work, but he can't take credit for everything is a dead giveaway that the piece was written by a scientist who was part of the 'team effort' that produced Britain's Hydrogen Bomb. And of particular importance in terms of placing the official government seal of approval on Dr Hulme is the phrase "he was respected and trusted by his colleagues...". This also tells us, indirectly, that Dr Hulme had no official secrets from his peers and says, in effect, the government knew of his past and, particularly, the parts that aren't listed here, and it still wishes to make it clear that he was considered to be one of our own. It's an important statement. The last sentence was probably added by obituary staff, because it is curiously personal compared to the rest of the piece. [jp]

The Times (London), Wednesday January 23, 1991. p. 16.
"Henry Hulme"

Henry Rainsford Hulme, former chief of nuclear research, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, died on January 8, aged 82. He was born on August 9, 1908.

The early part of the career of Henry Rainsford Hulme was devoted to the study of mathematical physics allied to astronomy. A former pupil of Manchester Grammar School, he was a fellow of Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, and subsequently chief assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

At the beginning of the war the direction of his career changed towards the more applied science required by first the navy, then the air ministry, and finally in the British nuclear warhead programme where he made a contribution of major importance over a number of years.

The wartime development of the atomic bomb was based on US/UK collaboration in which British scientists played an important part. But this collaboration ceased in 1946 under the terms of the US McMahon Act when Britain was forced to create its own independent warhead development programme. This was eventually based at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston. The initial development of a British atomic bomb was quite successful but it was soon apparent that great advances were being made in America, in particular with the H-Bomb concept that was demonstrated in 1952. In the following year the Russians claimed to have solved the H-Bomb secret and soon after their announcement tested nuclear devices which gave some confirmation of this claim.

It was clear that to maintain a British defence policy based on a nuclear deterrent would make it necessary to establish a capability in these more advanced types of warheads. In 1954 it was decided that the AWRE should pursue with all possible speed an appropriate research and development programme leading to the development of a thermonuclear warhead capability. There was an immediate need to strengthen the scientific work at the establishment and in particular to attract staff of proven ability who could make an immediate contribution to the programme. Hulme was one such very successful recruit. When he joined the programme in 1955 he was attached to the mathematical physics team where his ability as a mathematician and his profound grasp of physics enabled him to make an immediate and very worthwhile contribution to the solution of the problems involved.

The work at Aldermaston proceeded rapidly and in the relatively short time of three years the successful nuclear device tests at Christmas Island confirmed that the immediate goal of a thermonuclear warhead capability had been achieved. Hulme's contribution in the course of this work had been outstanding. But in ventures of the magnitude and complexity of this nature the overall credit for success must be shared between many staff working in many fields.

In 1959 he was made chief of nuclear research at Aldermaston until his retirement in 1973. In addition to the main work on the warhead programme, for example, in the late 1950s, Hulme was able to make important contributions in other programmes of research at the AWRE. Of particular value was his work as a technical adviser in the lengthy discussions preceding the negotiation of a test ban treaty in 1963. The discussions threw up many problems in the assessment of the effectiveness of systems of monitoring nuclear explosions carried out underground, in the atmosphere or even in space.

Hulme was a modest man with a ready wit and a great sense of humour. He was respected and trusted by his colleagues and by his staff to whom he was always prepared to listen, to encourage and to inspire.

His wife, Margery, died recently.

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