top of page

Sir William Hornell


Sir William Hornell was a British scholar who graduated from Radley and Trinity College at the University of Oxford. He developed his interest in education early on and became a world renowned “educationalist”. He joined the Indian Education Service in 1901 as a Professor of English at Presidency College in Calcutta, India. Following key administrative and educational posts in India, he returned to London in 1906 to be a junior examiner and subsequently an Assistant Director at the Board of Education. In 1913, he returned to India to assume the Directorate of Public Instruction in Bengal. He was highly decorated for his work towards improving educational instruction in India.


Due to political unrest and civil war, he left India and in 1924 became the 3rd Vice-Chancellor of The University of Hong Kong (HKU). During his tenure at HKU, he oversaw a major re-organization of the university, striving in particular to further develop the humanities. For his unwavering efforts to education, he was knighted by King George V in 1931.


In 1937, he retired from HKU and returned to London, acting as a honorary Resident Adviser to the College of the Sea. His appreciation for the study and culture of seafaring was largely attributed to his elder brother, Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Hornell.


Sir William Hornell married his long-time love in 1946. He died in 1950 in Nottingham, England.  


Sir William Hornell

Vice-Chancellor (1924-1937)

The University of Hong Kong



bottom of page