Family background and personality
The petrographer,1 mineralogist and structural petrologist,2 Frank Coles Phillips (Fig. 1.1) was born on 19 March 1902, at 19 Lipson Avenue, Plymouth, Devon, the youngest of the three children of Nicholas Phillips, an Inland Revenue officer, and his wife Kate Phillips (neé Salmon). He had an older brother, Richard Salmon (b. 1898) and sister Dorothy Kate (b. 1899). He never liked his first name and subsequently preferred to be called either Coles, a family name (his father's mother was a Coles) or Phil, depending on how well one knew him. The printed labels which identified his many microscope slides of rock thin-sections3 bore the name ‘F. Coles Phillips’.
He was a thin, rather gaunt figure, who began to go prematurely bald at the age of 28. In consequence, he customarily wore a hat in the field, at first favouring a trilby and later a flat cap. In his early years he smoked a pipe, but this gradually gave way to cigarettes, or the occasional cigar, interspersed by non-smoking gaps which could last a year. One of nature's gentlemen, he inspired a great deal of warmth and affection in all students, and everyone always spoke very highly of him, as both a teacher and a person. However, a colleague from Phillips’ time on the staff of the Department of Mineralogy at Cambridge in the 1930s, the crystallographer Robert C. Evans (b. 1909), recalls (pers. comm. 1999) that while in those days Phillips was courteous to his colleagues, he was never warm, and could appear to be somewhat aloof.4