Fisher: The Early Years

  • Joan Fisher Box
Part of the Lecture Notes in Statistics book series (LNS, volume 1)


Fisher was 19 years of age when he went up to Cambridge and 29 when, in 1919, he took a job as statistician at the Rothamsted Experimental Station. There he was to find his feet in research, and soon become famous. This decade of his life gives an insight into the motivation and approach to science that were eventually to prove so rewarding, for what Fisher was doing and attempting then set the direction and laid the groundwork for all his later work. He distinguished himself in mathematical studies throughout school and college. As his college tutor wrote in 1919, “He could have been a first class mathematician had he stuck to the ropes, but he would not”. As a mathematician he seemed to have disappointed early hopes; and he described himself as an “egregious failure” in two occupations after his college days.


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  1. Box, J.F. (1978). R.A. Fisher, The Life of a Scientist. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  2. Soper, H.E., A.W. Young, B.M. Cave, A. Lee, and K. Pearson (1917). “On the Distribution of the Correlation Coefficient in Small Samples. A Cooperative Study,” Biometrika, 11, 328–413.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1980

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  • Joan Fisher Box

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