Walter Ledermann – Encounters of a Mathematician

For about 20 years from the 1940s the Edinburgh publisher Oliver and Boyd published a series of very high standard pocket-sized texts in mathematics and mathematical physics entitled ‘University Mathematical Texts.’

Among my favourites, purchased as an undergraduate and still referred to forty years later, was ‘Finite Groups’ by Walter Ledermann.

For years Ledermann remained a name on a bookcover for me, until, through the magic of the internet, I chanced upon his reminisces, which begin here, full of warmth and humour.

Ledermann was a German Jew who was lucky enough to emigrate to Britain in the early 1930s, and to be able to follow his chosen career as a mathematician until he was well into his eighties.  The account of his PhD student from Afghanistan is particularly humorous and touching.

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