Derek Wragge Morley
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Derek Wragge Morley

Basil Derek Wragge Morley (1920 - 1969) born in Cambridge, son to a clergyman.[1] He was most noted for his work on the study of ants. Derek Wragge-Morley was an independent scientific consultant, who also held posts in journalism throughout his working life. He died aged 49 after battling with numerous illnesses.

Scientific study and works

Throughout his working like, Derek Wragge Morley held positions related to his knowledge of the sciences and devoted his life's work largely to the study of ants, for which he is perhaps best known.

Ants and the academic

Derek Wragge-Morley began his Study of ants when he was 14.[2] When he was 16, he published his first paper on ant research. A year after this, he read two papers to the International Congress for Entomology at Berlin, chairing one of the sessions.[3] He read Natural Sciences at Cambridge. For eight years, he held the Strong Fellowship for philosophical and scientific research, and from 1946-1949, he held the Macaulay Fellowship for Genetical Research at Edinburgh University. In 1948, he was an invitation lecturer at the Institute for Social Anthropology at Oxford. His research included Genetics, Social Behaviour of animals, and the behaviour of agricultural pests. During the Second World War he investigated insect pests for the Ministry of Agriculture.[4]

Later posts

Derek Wragge-Morley also served as Scientific Editor for both Picture Post Magazine and the Financial Times, as well as acting as a consultant for films on scientific subjects and the application of the new sciences of his day in industry, including work on early computers.

He married Monica Strutt in 1952,[5] and had four children, dying on the 22nd of January, 1969 at his home in Hadleigh, Suffolk.[6]

Books and films

Derek Wragge-Morley wrote several books on Ants, including "The Ant World", first published by Pelican in 1953. He also produced a film on the subject, "Ant Warfare". There is a Pathé film of him at home in Hampstead, working on ant research.[7]

He wrote a book about computing machines, entitled "Automatic Data Processing", which was published in 1961 by Her Majesty's Stationery Office for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and acted as a scientific consultant to a film about the application of computers in industry and the pros and cons of installing such systems, entitled "This Automaton Age".

His book "Ants" (1953), written for the New Naturalist Monograph series, was dedicated to his mentor, Horace Donisthorpe.[8]


  1. ^ The Ant Collectors Coincidence
  2. ^ Wragge Morley, Derek, Ants, Collins, London, 1953, p.1
  3. ^ P. H. D. "Mr. Wragge Morley." Times [London, England] 23 Jan. 1969: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.
  4. ^ P. H. D. "Mr. Wragge Morley." Times [London, England] 23 Jan. 1969: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.
  5. ^ "Marriages." Times [London, England] 11 Feb. 1952: 1. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.
  6. ^ P. H. D. "Mr. Wragge Morley." Times [London, England] 23 Jan. 1969: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.
  7. ^ Ant Colony 1950
  8. ^ Wragge Morley, Derek, Ants, Collins, London, 1953

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