|AdminHistory||Lionel Sharples Penrose was born on 11 June 1898, second of four sons of the artist James Doyle Penrose and Elizabeth Josephine, nee Peckover. His maternal grandfather was Alexander Peckover, 1st Baron Peckover and Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, from a prominent Quaker banking family. His younger brother was the artist Sir Roland Algernon Penrose. He also had an older brother, Alexander Peckover Doyle Penrose, and his youngest brother was Bernard Edmund Penrose.|
L S Penrose was educated at the Downs School, Colwall, and Leighton Park School, Reading. Born into a Quaker family, from 1916 he served in the Friends' Ambulance Unit in France, a voluntary ambulance service founded in 1914 by members of the British Religious Society of Friends. After the war, Penrose went up to St John's College, Cambridge, where he gained a first in part II of the moral sciences tripos in 1921. He remained in Cambridge for a year's postgraduate research in psychology before spending two years studying psychiatry in Vienna. Deciding that a medical qualification would be advantageous to the progression of his research, he returned to England to carry out clinical work at St Thomas' Hospital, London, and qualified as MRCS LRCP in 1928. He received his MD in 1930 after undertaking a study in schizophrenia at the City Mental Hospital, Cardiff.
Penrose continued his study of mental illness at the Royal Eastern Counties Institution, Colchester. The resulting seven years of research was published in a Medical Research Council special report, known as the "Colchester Survey", and expanded into two books, Mental Defect (1933) and The Biology of Mental Defect (1949). During the Second World War, Penrose was director of psychiatric research in Ontario, Canada, and in 1945 he was appointed to the Galton Chair of Eugenics at UCL. He had the post renamed in 1963 as the Galton Chair of Human Genetics, and carried out his research on mental illness and genetic abnormalities throughout his time at UCL. One of his particular interests was at the time known as "mongolism", but which he named "Down's anomaly" (later Down's syndrome). When Penrose retired from the Galton chair in 1965 he continued his research into genetic diseases at the Kennedy-Galton Centre, Harperbury Hospital.
In addition to his research into Down's syndrome, Penrose was also an authority on finger, palm and sole prints as indicators of genetic disease and made significant contributions to the detection and treatment of phenylketonuria (PKU). He was awarded honorary degrees by McGill (1958), Edinburgh (1970), Newcastle (1968), and Göteborg [Gothenburg] (1966), the Weldon medal from Oxford (1950), the Albert Lasker award (1960), the international award of the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation (1964), and the James Calvert Spence medal in paediatrics (1964). He was president of the Genetical Society of Great Britain (1955-8) and of the Third International Congress of Human Genetics in Chicago in 1966. He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1953, of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1962, and of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1971. (Source: DNB)
Penrose married Margaret Leathes in 1928 and they had four children: Oliver (b. 1929, Professor of Mathematics), Roger (b. 1931, mathematical physicist), Jonathan (1933-1921, ten times British Chess Champion) and Shirley (b.1945, geneticist S V Hodgson). He had many interests outside his work life, particularly chess and puzzle-solving, both of which are well-represented in his archive. He lends his name to the Penrose method for apportioning seats in a global assembly, and to the Penrose stairs and Penrose triangle, impossible objects developed with his son, Roger, which influenced (and were influenced by) the work of M C Escher.
L S Penrose died on the 12th May 1974.
|CustodialHistory||Researchers who are familiar with the printed handlist should note that the collection was re-numbered in July 2012. Old reference numbers have been noted in this online catalogue under the field "Previous Number". The new reference numbers should be used when requesting material or making citations.|