Dr. L.L. Ware, O.B.E., the founder of Mensa
My meetings with Dr. Ware
I am a photographer and a member of Mensa. Several years ago I had the privilege of photographing Dr. L.L. Ware, O.B.E., the founder of Mensa.
It was August 1993 that Dr. Ware visited San Antonio, Texas during his trip to the United States. Susan Laughead hosted an open house for him. I was fortunate to secure the "Alcalde" (Honorary Mayor) for Dr. Ware from the City of San Antonio. This happened during the time I was editor of MenSA, the local magazine of MENSA. Unfortunately I did not get to attend the open house because of business obligations. I did spend an afternoon with Dr. Ware the day before. We visited and I photographed him. He had a great sense of humor. At the end of our meeting he said he had his own conversational IQ test. He didn't say if I passed.
While Doris and I were visiting London, where Dr. Ware lived, we chanced to meet him again (with his wife, Francesca Quint) at St. Martins In The Field. We were attending a concert there during the Christmas/New Year's holidays 1998-1999.
Dr. Ware died August 15, 2000 in Surrey, England. He was 85.
My photographs of Dr. Ware may be published on the internet with a credit "Photo by Billy Mitchell" and a link to my web site, www.billymitchell.com.
Susan Laughead writes about Dr. Ware
for the San Antonio Mensa publication
Dr. Lancelot L. Ware, Founder of Mensa, was born in 1915 in Surrey, England, when it was not yet a part of the urban sprawl of London. The twinkle in his eye, the spring in his step, and the keenness of his mind all belie his chronological age.
Dr. Ware's life reflects the intellectual versatility one would expect of Mensa's founder. He read Chemistry and Maths as a Royal Scholar at the Imperial College of Science and Technology. Subsequently, he was a non-clinical medical researcher and lecturer at St. Thomas Hospital, London. During the war, he did research under the Official Secrets Act. (He still can't tell us what he worked on then!)
After the war, he read Jurisprudence at Oxford. It was there that Mensa was born October 1, 1946, when he and a few fellow law students decided that they wanted to drink and socialize with people they could stand to be with when sober. Lance fervently denies the propaganda that Mensa was founded for any higher purpose, such as solving the problems of the world.
In fact, he has said that American Gatherings - including the hugging and the 24-hour hospitality suites - are every bit in keeping with the hopes of those first founding Mensans, although perhaps beyond their dreams at the time. The early group grew quickly. Missing the input of nimble female brains, the founders tested Dr. Ware's sister and some of her friends from Cambridge. Originally, the intent was to include only the top 1%, but an error in computing standard deviations on the early tests brought many delightful friends who would have been excluded if the error were corrected. Accordingly, being "98 Proof ' became the sole Mensa membership qualification, and remains so to this day.
After law school, Dr. Ware was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1949. He specializes in intellectual property law (patents - not smart real estate). He is a past president of the International Federation of Inventors Associations, and numerous other societies related to patents and inventions. His wife, Francesca, who also has chambers at Lincoln's Inn, specializes in the law of trusts and charities.
Outside of the law, Dr. Ware has the eclectic interests typical of Mensans. He is an active proponent of the Earl of Oxford in the scholarly debate about the true identity of Shakespeare; he is a vice-president of the Royal Asiatic Society. He plays chess, real tennis, and rackets; loves classical music and the countryside; and is averse to the seaside and party politics.
Dr. Ware is educated, articulate, opinionated, vocal, huggable and utterly charming.
All photographs are copyrighted. Please do not use without permission and byline.