Hutchinson, G. Evelyn (George Evelyn), 1903-1991

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1903-01-30
Death 1991-05-17
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a zoologist known for his work on the ecology of freshwater lakes, received his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University, and joined the faculty of Yale University in 1928, retiring as Sterling Professor of Zoology in 1971. Hutchinson died in England on May 17, 1991.

From the description of G. Evelyn Hutchinson papers, 1875-1992 (inclusive), 1922-1991 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702166972

G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a zoologist known for his work on the ecology of freshwater lakes, received his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University, and joined the faculty of Yale University in 1928, retiring as Sterling Professor of Zoology in 1971. Author of many books and articles, including The Enchanted Voyage (1962), Hutchinson was a friend and admirer of British author Rebecca West, which led to his publication of A Preliminary List of the Writings of Rebecca West (1951), and several posthumous appreciations of West. Hutchinson died in Cambridge, England in 1991.

Rebecca West (1892-1983), British novelist, journalist and essayist best known for Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1942), The Meaning of Treason (1949), and A Train of Powder (1955).

From the description of G. Evelyn Hutchinson papers relating to Rebecca West, 1927-1988. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81899808

G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a zoologist known for his work on the ecology of freshwater lakes, received his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University, and joined the faculty of Yale University in 1928, retiring as Sterling Professor of Zoology in 1971. Author of many books and articles, including The Enchanted Voyage (1962), Hutchinson was a friend and admirer of British author Rebecca West, which led to his publication of A Preliminary List of the Writings of Rebecca West (1951), and several posthumous appreciations of West. Hutchinson died in Cambridge, England in 1991.

Rebecca West (1892-1983), British novelist, journalist and essayist best known for Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1942), The Meaning of Treason (1949), and A Train of Powder (1955).

From the description of G. Evelyn Hutchinson papers relating to Rebecca West, 1927-1988. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702148564

G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a zoologist well-known for his work on the ecology of freshwater lakes, was born in Cambridge, England in 1903 and received his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University. In 1928 he joined the faculty of Yale University, rising to become Sterling Professor of Zoology from 1952-71, when he retired from teaching. He became a citizen of the United States in 1941.

Hutchinson, a man of wide literary interests, was introduced to the writings of Rebecca West by his wife Margaret, who admired the British feminist author greatly. Hutchinson himself was taken with her 1928 book of criticism, The Strange Necessity. As he explained in "First Encounter with Rebecca West:"

"The theme of this study is that all important art represents a journey of discovery. She held to this view as a major aspect of aesthetics and from it derived a view that the creative processes of science and art are basically similar. Although the basic idea of the book was hardly noticed by literary authorities, it was a view that instantly appealed to me."

In 1947 Hutchinson began discussing West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon in his regular American Scientist columns, and sent West copies of these at his wife's suggestion. This led to West's first visit with the Hutchinsons and resulted in a lifelong friendship among West, Hutchinson and his wife. Hutchinson published his bibliography of West's writings, A Preliminary List of the Writings of Rebecca West, 1912-1951, in 1957 to coincide with her appearance at Yale as Terry Lecturer, and was instrumental in her gift of her papers to the university as well.

In addition to his West bibliography and many scholarly articles on aquatic ecosystems and aspects of evolution, Hutchinson's works include The Clear Mirror (1936), A treatise on Limnology (1957, 1967, 1975), The Enchanted Voyage (1962), The Ecological Theater and the Evolutionary Play (1965), and Introduction to Population Ecology (1978). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1949 and to the National Academy of Science in the following year. In 1971 he received the Edward Browning Achievement Award, and in 1974 the Tyler and the Cottrell Awards. G. Evelyn Hutchinson died in Cambridge, England in 1991.

From the guide to the G. Evelyn Hutchinson papers relating to Rebecca West, 1927-1988, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

George Evelyn Hutchinson was born in Cambridge, England, on January 30, 1903. His father, Arthur Hutchinson, was a mineralogist and master of Pembroke College at Cambridge University. Hutchinson's early education was at St. Faith's School, Cambridge, and Gresham's School, Holt. He demonstrated an early interest in natural history, particularly butterflies and aquatic insects, and published his first piece of scholarship when he was fifteen.

Hutchinson was a member of Emmanuel College as an undergraduate and received a B.A. from Cambridge University in 1924. After graduation he spent a year as a Rockefeller Fellow at the Stazione Zoologica in Naples where he studied octopus, squid, and other deep sea animals of Messina but also became fascinated with folklore and art. In 1926 Hutchinson accepted his first academic job as a senior lecturer in zoology at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, where he began his studies of the physical, biological, chemical, and meteorological conditions of lakes of the western Transvaal. In 1928, he married Grace Pickford.

In that same year, Hutchinson made his final career move, joining the faculty of Yale University as an instructor. He rose to become Sterling Professor of Zoology, a post he held until his retirement in 1971. In 1932, Hutchinson was given the opportunity to study the ecosystems of the lakes on the high plateaus of Tibet, as the biologist accompanying the Yale North India Expedition. Hutchinson chronicled his impressions and experiences in The Clear Mirror (1936). On the return trip from India, he met Margaret Seal, who became his second wife in 1933.

Hutchinson is best known for his work in limnology, the study of freshwaters, particularly lakes. Early on he recognized the significance of ecology, and much of his research and writing dealt with the relationship between living organisms and their environment. He was particularly interested in the determining influence of the physical and chemical environment on the ecology of rivers and lakes. In 1935, he demonstrated the importance of horizontal movements of water in stratified lakes in mixing the upper and lower layers of water. In other studies he showed the circulation of phosphorous in stratified lakes and conducted research on the chemistry of lake sediments. In 1957, he published the first volume of his A Treatise on Limnology, a work of such extensive and thorough analysis that it comprised four volumes, the last of which was released posthumously.

Hutchinson had vast theoretical insight and defended the importance of theory as a stimulus to empirical research. In his desire to find order in the diversity of nature, he maintained that there was a need for dialogue between mathematicians and biologists and he employed mathematical models to arrive at general principles. His curiosity and ability to pose stimulating questions on ecological principles inspired his students, many of whom became leading figures in ecology. He asked, and partially answered the question, "Why are there so many kinds of animals?" and he provided a theoretical understanding of how an organism fits in nature, giving a modern definition of the ecological niche. A prolific writer, Hutchinson presented some of his most provocative ideas in his "Marginalia" column in American Scientist .

Hutchinson was an active participant in numerous professional organizations and learned societies. He was a charter member of the Limnological Society of America and its president from 1947 to1948. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1950, he served on its Committee on Science and Public Policy and was a foreign member of the Royal Society. He received several honorary degrees, and his contributions were recognized by, among others, the Naumann Medal of the International Association of Theoretical and Applied Limnology (1959), the Frederick Garner Cottrell Award for Environmental Quality of the National Academy of Sciences (1974), the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal of the National Academy of Sciences (1984), and the Kyoto Prize in Basic Science (1986).

Hutchinson is remembered as a shy, reserved man, with an insatiable curiosity about all fields of human inquiry and a delightful sense of humor. His wife Margaret had died in 1983, and he had married Anne Twitty in 1985. After her death in 1990, Hutchinson, in failing health, had returned to England. He died there on May 17, 1991.

From the guide to the G. Evelyn Hutchinson papers, 1875-1992, 1922-1991, (Manuscripts and Archives)

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Subjects:

  • Biology--Study and teaching
  • Women authors
  • English literature--20th century
  • Limnology
  • Niche (Ecology)
  • Authors, English--20th century
  • Guano
  • Abraxas
  • Women journalists
  • Mothers and sons
  • Population biology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Ecology
  • Lakes

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Goa, Daman and Diu (India) (as recorded)
  • India (as recorded)