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William Homan Thorpe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Mr and Mrs J.P. Niven of the South African Ornithological Society with Dr W.H. Thorpe (right) during the XII Ornithological Congress in Finland, Otaniemi, June 7, 1958
Mr and Mrs J.P. Niven of the South African Ornithological Society with Dr W.H. Thorpe (right) during the XII Ornithological Congress in Finland, Otaniemi, June 7, 1958

William Homan Thorpe FRS[1] (1 April 1902 – 7 April 1986) was Professor of Animal Ethology at the University of Cambridge, and a significant British zoologist, ethologist and ornithologist.[2] Together with Nikolaas Tinbergen, Patrick Bateson and Robert Hinde, Thorpe contributed to the growth and acceptance of behavioural biology in Great Britain.

Areas of interest

Bird song

In the 1940s, he pioneered the use of sound spectrography for the detailed analysis of bird song. At the time, there was only a single apparatus in the UK.


He was a member of the advisory committee to the Anti-Concorde Project.


He was elected to the Royal Society in 1951[1] and speaker at the Gifford lectures from 1969 to 1971. He was president of the British Ornithologists' Union from 1955 to 1960.


  1. ^ a b Hinde, R. A. (1987). "William Homan Thorpe. 1 April 1902-7 April 1986". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 33: 620–639. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1987.0022. JSTOR 769965. PMID 11621438. 
  2. ^ Alan Costall, ‘Thorpe, William Homan (1902–1986)’ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/60992. 


  • Learning and Instinct in Animals (1956) Methuen, London ISBN 0-416-57920-5
  • Biology,psychology,and belief (Arthur Stanley Eddington memorial lectures) (1960)
  • Bird-Song. The biology of vocal communication and expression in birds, University Press, Cambridge 1961, (Cambridge monographs in experimental biology; Vol. 12)
  • Biology and Nature of Man (Riddell Memorial Lecture) (1962)
  • Duetting and antiphonal song in birds. Its extent and significance, Brill, Leiden 1972, ISBN 90-04-03432-3 (Behaviour / Supplements; Vol. 18)
  • Quakers and Humanists (Swarthmore Lectures) (1968)
  • Animal Nature and Human Nature (1975)
  • Science, Man and Morals. Based upon the Freemantle lectures, delivered in Balliol College, Oxford, Trinity term 1963, Greenwood, Westport, Conn. 1976, ISBN 0-8371-8143-7
  • Purpose in a World of Chance: A Biologist's View (1978)
  • The origins and rise of ethology. The science of the natural behaviour of animals, Heinemann, London 1979, ISBN 0-435-62441-5

External links

  • Metzmacher, M. 2016. L'apprentissage du chant chez le Pinson des arbres (Fringilla coelebs) : une réévaluation des conclusions de Thorpe Alauda, 84 : 237-239.
This page was last edited on 26 December 2017, at 21:37.
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