Frederick Levi Attenborough

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Frederick Levi Attenborough

Birthplace: Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: March 20, 1973 (85)
Wandsworth, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Frederick Augustus Attenborough and Mary Amelia Sophia Attenborough
Husband of Mary Attenborough (Clegg)
Father of Richard Attenborough; John Attenborough; Sir David Attenborough; Private and Private
Brother of Ada Saxon Attenborough; Laura Attenborough; Maud Attenborough; John George Attenborough and William Sydney Attenborough

Managed by: Jason Scott Wills
Last Updated:

About Frederick Levi Attenborough

Frederick Levi Attenborough (4 April 1887 – 20 March 1973) was a British academic and principal of University College, Leicester.


He was the son of Mary (née Saxton) and Frederick August Attenborough of Stapleford in Nottinghamshire. He was educated at schools in Long Eaton. He became a teacher at the Long Eaton Higher Elementary School in 1913. This school was founded by Samuel Clegg, the headmaster, in 1910. He married the headmaster's daughter, Mary Clegg, in 1922. In 1915 he went to Emmanuel College, Cambridge as a Foundation Scholar and Choral Exhibitioner, and gained a first class degree in the Modern and Medieval Languages Tripos. From 1918 to 1920 he was a research student, and a fellow from 1920 to 1925. From 1925 to 1932 he was principal of the Borough Road Training College (became the West London Institute of Higher Education in 1976) in Isleworth.

Attenborough was principal of University College, Leicester from 1932 to 1951, and lived with his family on campus in College House (which now houses part of the University's Mathematics department).

During the Second World War, the Attenboroughs took in two Jewish refugee girls who lived with them in College House. One of them encouraged son David's fascination with the natural world by giving him a piece of amber.

Under Attenborough's guidance, the University College grew in size and reputation and eventually became the University of Leicester, receiving its Royal Charter in 1957.

The university's Attenborough Building, which includes an 18-storey tower and is the tallest building on the campus, was named in his honour. The building was opened in 1970. Attenborough was by this stage quite frail, so the building was opened on his behalf by his youngest son John.


He was married to Mary Clegg (died 1961), of New Sawley. They had three children:

Richard Samuel Attenborough (1923–2014), Lord Attenborough, the actor and director

David Frederick Attenborough (born 1926), now Sir David, the TV naturalist

John Michael Attenborough (1928–2012), Executive at Alfa Romeo

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Frederick Levi Attenborough's Timeline

April 4, 1887
Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
August 29, 1923
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK
May 8, 1926
Isleworth, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
January 1, 1928
Isleworth, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
March 20, 1973
Age 85
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom