Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins

Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins OM, DSc, LLD (1861-1947) CLS 1871-76

Frederick Gowland Hopkins is one of CLS’ most notable Alumni and the first of our two Nobel laureates.

Hopkins entered the school while Edwin Abbott Abbott was Headmaster and it was still in its original premises in Milk Street, a building he later described as ‘so closely surrounded by other buildings that scarce a ray of sun could enter’.

In 1875 He was awarded the Shakespeare prize although before he could collect it the Headmaster suggested he leave the school owing to truancy. Despite this he was an honoured guest at the Cambridge University Old Citizens’ Society Dinner in 1936 dinner and wrote to the Old Citizens Gazette, saying ‘It is a peculiar pleasure to receive congratulations on the bestowal of the Order of Merit from representatives of my old school’ suggesting that he held no grudges. Indeed, when he writes ‘my career might then have followed different lines’ one cannot help but think that Abbott made the correct decision considering Hopkins’ later success.

After leaving CLS he became a medical student at Guy's Hospital before going on to teach at Cambridge. In 1912 he published his seminal work, recording experiments on animals which showed that their growth was stunted if deprived of as yet unknown substances; later called vitamins. This work led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in Medicine in 1929.

He was President of both the Royal Society from 1930-35, and of the British Association. In 1925 he was awarded a Knighthood followed by an order of Merit in 1935.

‘Hopkins was a man of exceptional personal charm...With him there would seem to end a phase in British Scientific achievement second to none.’ School Magazine 1947


Hopkins was a man of exceptional personal charm

School Magazine 1947