Hilda Phoebe Hudson (1881-1965): ICM's First Female Voice
Hilda Phoebe Hudson was born in 1881, in Cambridge (England), in a family of mathematicians. His father, William Henry Hoar Hudson, was a member of St. John’s College and a professor of mathematics at King’s College London; while her mother, Hoare Hudson, was one of the first female students of Newnham College at the University of Cambridge.
As the taste for mathematics came from cradle, in 1900 she won a scholarship to graduate from Newnham College three years later. She spent a year expanding her knowledge at the University of Berlin (Germany) alongside names like Schwarz, Schottky, Edmund Landau and others, returning to Newnham in 1905, first as a lecturer in mathematics and then as an associate researcher.
Specialist in algebraic geometry, in particular in the transformations of Cremona, Hilda Hudson was the first woman invited to speak at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM). At ICM 1912 in Cambridge (UK), she presented the lecture “On Binodes and Nodal Curves”.
She spent the school year of 1912-1913 at Bryn Mawr in the USA. Upon returning to England, she became a lecturer at the West Ham Technical Institute until 1917, joining a subdivision of the Air Ministry in aeronautical engineering research, where she applied pioneering work on mathematical modeling to aircraft design.