Professor Walter Brown Scotland Zimbabwe Hong Kong

Biography of Professor Walter Brown

Walter Brown matriculation slip 1904-05
Walter Brown matriculation slip 1904-05

Walter Brown graduated MA and BSc from the University in 1907 and 1909 respectively. He became Professor of Pure and Applied Mathematics at the University of Hong Kong until World War II, and thereafter Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Glasgow (1947-8).

Brown was born in April 1886 in Glasgow, the son of Hugh A Brown, a headmaster. He was educated at Allan Glen's School, before matriculating at the University of Glasgow in 1904. He completed an MA degree in Maths and Physics in 1907, and then a BSc in Engineering, graduating on 12 April 1909.

Upon graduation, Brown worked as a teacher at the secondary school he had attended (1911-14), and in 1914, he left Scotland for the Far East, where he had been appointed Lecturer in Engineering at the University of Hong Kong. In 1918, Brown took on the position of Professor of Pure and Applied Mathematics, a position in which he remained until World War II. On 8 December 1941, Hong Kong was attacked, and ten days later the Japanese invaded causing the surrender of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941.

Brown was interned along with many other expatriates at Stanley Camp. During his time there, he organised study groups and concerned himself with the medical well-being of his fellow prisoners.

When the war ended, the University of Hong Kong re-opened, and Brown retired, deciding to return to Scotland.

He worked as a Lecturer in Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the Royal Technical College, now Strathclyde University from 1946-7, and then as a Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Glasgow, 1947-8.

Brown was a member of many societies and guilds, both in the UK and Hong Kong. He joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in 1911, and became an associate member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1920. He was also elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 5 March 1923, having been proposed by Andrew Gray, George A Gibson, John Walter Gregory, James Gordon Gray and Dugald Black McQuistan.

In Hong Kong, Brown was the president of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society, the Hong Kong English Association, the Hong Kong Sino-British Association and the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders.

After retirement, he travelled extensively in Africa and South America. It was on such a trip that he died at Marandellas, Rhodesia, modern day now Zimbabwe in April 1957.


Other Online Resources

Archival Materials

  • GU Calendar 1910-11 SEN 10/152 General Council List
  • R4/1/4 Schedule of Graduates in Arts 1907&1908
  • R4/5/3 Schedule of Graduates in Science 1907-10
  • R8/5/25/1 Matriculation Album 1904-5 Men A-B


Professor Walter Brown
Born 29 April 1886.
Died 14 April 1957.
GU Degrees: MA, 1907; Arts, BSc, 1909; Science,
University Link: Alumnus, Graduate, Lecturer, Student
Occupation categories: engineers; lecturers; mathematicians; teachers
English snippet: Engineering graduate of the University of Glasgow in 1909, Lecturer at Hong Kong University
Record last updated: 23rd Sep 2013

Country Associations

Scotland Scotland, Glasgow
Place of Birth

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe, No Region
Place of Death

Hong Kong Hong Kong, No Region

University Connections

University Roles