The Atiyah Family

 Updated for 2007

My family is a hybrid of Lebanese - Scottish extraction. My father Edward Atiyah was Lebanese. He came to England to study at Oxford University, and there met and married my mother Jean. Edward worked for 20 years in the Sudan government, among other things he started a primitive radio broadcast service there in the second world war. He settled in England in 1945 and wrote several books, including his autobiography An Arab Tells His Story, and The Thin Line, which was much later made into a film by the French director Claude Chabrol, called Juste Avant La Nuit. He also broadcast for the Arabic service of the BBC, and made some appearances on BBC TV in political comment programs (Panorama etc.). (see )

I have two elder brothers - (Sir) Michael , and Patrick, and an elder Sister Selma.

Michael (M.F. Atiyah) is a world class mathematician, responsible for gluing together pure mathematical work in topology with theoretical particle physics. His main work covered K Theory, Index Theory, and Yang Mills Theory. He was at one time Professor of Geometry at Oxford, then resident fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, then held a Royal Society research chair, and finally was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge from where he retired in 1997. Whilst master, he was also President of the Royal Society for five years. He has been awarded numerous medals and prizes, including the Fields Gold Medal (one awarded each year to young mathematicians), and has about twenty five honourary degrees. He is still actively involved in science and mathematics, and continues to travel the world giving lectures. In 2004 Michael was awarded the Abel prize for mathematics for the Index Theorem (together with Isadore Singer), which is a new prize intended to emulate the Nobel prize, with a similar award ceremony in Norway. (for more info see and )

Patrick (P.S. Atiyah) was Professor of English Law at Oxford from 1977-88 when he retired. He is well known in international law circles, having worked in the Sudan, Ghana and Australia where he was Professor at Canberra, and has spent many semesters in the US. He wrote numerous books, including The Law of Contract , Accidents Compensations and The Law, and The Sale of Goods which has become a much reprinted classic work for law students. (see )

My sister Selma studied for an MA in English at Mills College, Oakland CA, and there met and married a Law student Harvey Zall. She has two sons Clifford and Greg, (with a grandaughters Ava and Juliet), and lives in Sacramento.

Compared to my illustrious brothers, my career has been somewhat subdued. I can at least claim to have earned my income in industry and contributed to the UK's export drive - I worked for 16 years for Racal Redac, (part of Racal Electronics) and helped to produce leading edge Computer Aided Design software. I personally installed the first PCB CAD system used in Digital Equipment Corp (on a PDP15 for students of computer archaeology), and in Boeing Computer Services in Seattle, along with other systems at Kongsberg Vapenfabrik in Norway, ASEA in Sweden, and SONY in Japan. The company grew from about 25 people when I joined, to over 500 with subsidiaries in US, Europe and Japan. I also spent four years working for a start up telecomms company Dellfield Digital, which alas is no more. Dellfield was a fun company, producing a small digital PABX which was advanced for its time - and competing with the likes of BT, ATT and Nortel. Unfortunately its cash outflow was always more than its inflow, and it folded. While at Dellfield, I became ill with ME (or CFS/CFIDS), which abruptly terminated my working career.

In 1977 I married my wife Beverley, who was an infant teacher (imagine, 25 four year olds). We have two lovely sons, Tom born in 1980, and Dan born 1983. Bev is now retired. Tom is a trainee solicitor for the law firm Beachcroft Wansbrough in Bristol. Dan worked hard for his 3 B's in History, Psychology and Business Studies, and went on to gain a 2.1 in History and Politics at Swansea University. He is now working as academic systems officer at the local Hartpury College. Bev and I have been travelling quite a bit since she retired - Spain, Lanzarote, Slovenia, Tuscany and Egypt in 2001; New Zealand, a Baltic cruise, Pembroke, Dorset and Majorca in 2002; Spain, France, the Cyclades, Cornwall, The Lake district and Thailand in 2003; Cyprus, Eastern Europe and a Med cruise in 2004. Australia, Majorca, Lanzarote and a cruise from New York to Quebec in 2005. South Africa, the Dodecanese, Yorkshire and Ireland in 2006.

The Atiyah clan in the UK is now too numerous to include here, but I must also mention our relatives the Attiyeh's in San Diego. Dick Attiyeh was dean of graduate studies at UCSD, and is married to Jessie. They have numerous offspring populating northern California. Dick's brother Bob Attiyeh was VP of finance for Amgen, a large US Biotech company, he also has a lot to do with the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra.

Sadly, Michael's eldest son John died on 24th of June 2002 while on a walking holiday in the Pyrenees with his wife Maj-Lis.

Another sad day was the 12th April 2006 when Patricks youngest son Jeremy died while walking in Italy. Jeremy was a travel writer, at one time travel editor of The Independent. His articles, and obituaries, are available on search for Jeremy Atiyah in the travel section from 2000 to 2006.


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