William Homan Thorpe

William Homan Thorpe FRS[1] (1 April 1902 – 7 April 1986) was Professor of Animal Ethology at the University of Cambridge, and a significant British zoologist, ethologist and ornithologist.[2] Together with Nikolaas Tinbergen, Patrick Bateson and Robert Hinde, Thorpe contributed to the growth and acceptance of behavioural biology in Great Britain.

Areas of interest

Bird song

In the 1940s, he pioneered the use of sound spectrography for the detailed analysis of bird song. At the time, there was only a single apparatus in the UK.


He was a member of the advisory committee to the Anti-Concorde Project.


He was elected to the Royal Society in 1951[1] and speaker at the Gifford lectures from 1969 to 1971. He was president of the British Ornithologists' Union from 1955 to 1960.


  1. 1 2 Hinde, R. A. (1987). "William Homan Thorpe. 1 April 1902-7 April 1986". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 33: 620–639. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1987.0022. JSTOR 769965. PMID 11621438.
  2. Alan Costall, ‘Thorpe, William Homan (1902–1986)’ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/60992.


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