Madeleine Hall

The improbable genius of John Venn

How a priest changed the face of mathematics

  • From Spectator Life
An Alternative History plaque for John Venn on the Drypool Bridge, Kingston upon Hull [Alamy]

There aren’t many mathematicians who can claim to have bowled out Australia’s number one batsman. But then John Venn, who died 100 years ago today, was no ordinary scholar.

Born in Hull and brought up in Highgate, he was also an Anglican priest – the ninth consecutive one in his family – with a magnificent Victorian beard.

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