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Francis Macdonald Cornford

  (Redirected from F. M. Cornford)

Francis Macdonald Cornford, FBA (27 February 1874 – 3 January 1943) was an English classical scholar and translator known for influential work on ancient philosophy, notablyPlato, Parmenides, Thucydides and ancient Greek religion. Frances Cornford, his wife, was a noted poet. Due to the similarity of their forenames, he was known to family as "FMC" and his wife as "FCC".[1]



Cornford was educated at St Paul's School, London and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a Fellow from 1899 and held a teaching post from 1902.[2] He became Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy in 1931 and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1937.[1]


In 1909 Cornford married the poet Frances Darwin, daughter of Sir Francis Darwin and Ellen Wordsworth Darwin, née Crofts, and a granddaughter of Charles Darwin. They had five children:

He was cremated at Cambridge Crematorium on 6 January 1943.[1]


  • Thucydides Mythistoricus (1907) argued that Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War was informed by Thucydides' tragic view.
  • From Religion to Philosophy: A Study in the Origins of Western Speculation (1912) sought the deep religious and social concepts that informed the early Greek philosophers. He returned to this in Principium Sapientiae: The Origins of Greek Philosophical Thought (posthumous, 1952).
  • Microcosmographia Academica (1908), an insider's satire on academic politics, was the source of catch phrases such as the "doctrine of unripeness of time", "principle of the wedge", and "principle of the dangerous precedent".[5][6]
  • According to the preface to The Republic of Plato, translated with an introduction and notes (OUP, 1941), it "aims at conveying... as much as possible of the thought of the Republic in the most convenient and least misleading form."

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Reginald Hackforth, "Cornford, Francis Macdonald (1874–1943)", rev. David Gill, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, UK: OUP, 2004) Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Cornford, Francis Macdonald (CNFT893FM)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Flora Bridge · Barrie Alfred Ernest Chapman · Amiya Kumar Chatterjee · Hugh Wordsworth Cornford... – Europe PMC Article – Europe PubMed Central
  5. ^ Peter Wilby Pass the sickbag, Alice New Statesman 30 April 2009.
  6. ^ Slavery was theft: we should pay New Statesman 10 September 2001.

External linksEdit