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Needham, Joseph

Category: Scientist

Joseph Needham by Ramsey & Muspratt; bromide print, 1937
Given by Jane Burch, 1988 to  NPG P363(17

Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham, CH, FRS FBA (1900 –1995), also was a British scientist, historian and sinologist known for his scientific research and writing on the history of Chinese science. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1941, and as a fellow of the British Academy in 1971. In 1992, the Queen conferred on him the Companionship of Honour and the Royal Society noted he was the only living person to hold these three titles.

Needham was married to the biochemist Dorothy Moyle (1896–1987) in 1924 and they became the first husband and wife both to be elected as Fellows of the Royal Society.

Needham was an avid gymnosophist and he was always attracted by pretty women. When he and Lu Gwei-djen met in 1937, they fell deeply in love, which Dorothy accepted. The three of them eventually lived contentedly on the same road in Cambridge for many years. In 1989, two years after Dorothy's death, Needham married Lu, who died two years later. He died at the age of 94 at his Cambridge home.

Gymnosophy was originally the doctrines of a sect of philosophers who practiced nudity, asceticism and meditation. Joseph avoided the asceticism.


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