Oral history of British science
Hinde, Robert (Part 1 of 7). An Oral History of British Science.
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St. John's College, Cambridge
Hinde, Robert, 1923-2016 (speaker, male, interviewee, zoologist, ethologist)
Brodie, Louise (speaker, female)
Part 1: Robert Hinde [RH] born in Norwich in Gurney Court in 1923. Father was a GP in Norwich and his father was a silk merchant. Father trained in Cambridge. Three brothers were in the church. Father had a panel practice for poor people. After the war (WW1) he started taking private patients, and they moved to Mount Pleasant in Norwich. Father attended church only twice a year, having lost his faith. He took RH fishing and flying model aeroplanes. He was very interested in the Middle East having spent time there during the First World War. After RH’s mother died, he regained some of his religious belief. He was always busy with his patients. [7:16] RH’s mother was warm and kind and came from Cumbria. Her father or grandfather had a nail making business. After he died, RH’s grandmother set up a cake making business, which two of her daughters continued. Kirkby Lonsdale is a beautiful little town. She had a happy childhood. She became a nurse at Guy’s hospital. And became a Sister. Her name was Taylor. In the First World War she ran her husband’s practice with a series of locums. RH’s brother and sister were born in 1912 and 1913. It must have been hard. Her father-in-law helped her. Another sister, Wendy, was born in 1919. His brother John was much older, and a glorious role model. He was away at Gresham’s. Sister Isabel was a mother to RH. She became a doctor, a researcher and a nun. Wendy was an editor on ‘The Economist’ and was at Bletchley. When she retired she wrote historical biographies. [19:14] RH just remembers visiting Gurney Court to see his father’s partner, who was charismatic. RH remembers Mount Pleasant where they moved in 1925, next door to the family Cozens-Hardy. The children were Mary, John, Graham, Ann, and Jeremy and they played together. The Bang Game and the Bicycle Game. The father had only one leg and he encouraged them to play war games. Graham was RH’s special friend. He was killed in the Air Force at the end of 1944. Description of the games. Each house had an acre of garden. John (C-H) became a doctor and went to live in Spain. RH and Joan (his wife) went to visit him about ten years ago. Incident. [28:25] RH’s father’s brother (Frank) went broke in the Depression. He encouraged RH to collect butterflies. RH’s father had a secondary interest in natural history and sent specimens to the British Museum. His diary from the field hospital is full of notes on natural history. He and Isabel were keen botanists. She was sporty at school. RH was more keen on birds. Story. They went on family holidays in the Lake District three times. His mother loved walking up the fells. RH climbed trees all the time. When RH was young they went to Cromer and stayed in a boarding house. Then they went to other places in the UK. [38:45] They had three maids in the house, and a chauffeur and part time gardener. RH had a nanny. RH’s first school was the Norwich High School for Girls, the kindergarten. His mother helped very much with his early education. Then he went with Graham to Unthank College at the age of about 8 or 9. He was a bit cleverer than RH. Story about the pennies. RH was always welcomed in Graham’s house. They loved maps. RH had two dogs, Laddie and Kim who was a terrier and good friends with RH. The school was second rate. At age 11 RH went to Oundle. Brother John had done badly at Gresham’s and at Cambridge. He had a social life there. His sport was running.
Life story interview with Professor Robert Hinde, zoologist