Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Manning, Henry P.

Henry Parker Manning (1859-1956), professor of mathematics, was born in Woodstock, Connecticut, on October 3, 1859. In 1883 he graduated from Brown, having won the Hartshorn premium for entrance mathematics, the Howell premium for the highest record in mathematics and natural philosophy, and a Carpenter premium for “ability, character and attainment.” After graduation he taught for one year in New York State, for three years in Maryland, and for two years in West Virginia. In 1889 he entered Johns Hopkins University to study mathematics, astronomy and physics. When he received his Ph.D. degree in 1891, his first printed paper had already appeared in the American Journal of Mathematics. He was appointed instructor in mathematics at Brown that same year, and “with his advent,” Professor Raymond C. Archibald would later write, “a new era in the development of mathematics at Brown was ushered in.” From 1893 to 1908 Manning offered courses in higher mathematics never previously available at Brown, courses with names like “Theory of functions: algebraic functions, Riemann surfaces, and Abelian functions,” “Substitutions and transformation groups,” and “Quaternions, non-Euclidean geometry, and hyperspace.” After 1908 there were others in the department able to teach higher mathematics. His publications included Non-Euclidean Geometry in 1901, the first English language text in this subject, Irrational Numbers and their Representation by Sequences and Series in 1906, and Geometry of Four Dimensions in 1914.

When he was nearly seventy, Manning learned early Egyptian hieroglypics, and collaborated with Arnold Buffum Chace in his publication of the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus. In his later years, he suffered from deafness. He retired in 1930 and spent several years as associate editor of the American Mathematical Monthly. He died in Providence on January 11, 1956, at the age of 96. In the memorial minute of the Faculty on the death of Manning, his former student, Professor Albert A. Bennett, said of him,

“Professor Manning was hardly typical of the college professor of his time. His quiet, gentle, even sweet, nature showed none of the dominance of the stern disciplinarian, nor doctrinaire dryness of the stereotyped pedant. He did not rely on traditional textbooks for authority or inspiration, but normally turned to masterpieces, early or contemporary, in their original languages, ever ready to share his wisdom and broad scholarship with any student who cared to inquire.”