Delia Ann Derbyshire (5 May 1937 – 3 July 2001) was an English musician and composer of electronic music. She is best known for her pioneering work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop during the 1960s, particularly her popular electronic arrangement of the theme music to the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who. She has been referred to as "the unsung heroine of British electronic music."
Derbyshire was born in Coventry, daughter of Emma (née Dawson) and Edward Derbyshire. of Cedars Avenue, Coundon, Coventry. Her father was a sheet-metal worker. She had one sibling, a sister, who died young. Her father died in 1965 and her mother in 1994.
During the Second World War, immediately after the Coventry Blitz in 1940, she was moved to Preston, Lancashire for safety. Her parents had moved from there originally and most of her surviving relatives still live in the area. She was very bright and, by the age of four, was teaching others in her class to read and write in primary school, but said "The radio was my education". Her parents bought her a piano when she was eight years old. Educated at Barr's Hill Grammar School from 1948 to 1956, she was accepted at both Oxford and Cambridge, "quite something for a working class girl in the 'fifties, where only one in 10 [students] were female", winning a scholarship to study mathematics at Girton College, Cambridge but, apart from some success in the mathematical theory of electricity, she claims she did badly. After one year at Cambridge she switched to music, graduating in 1959 with a BA in mathematics and music, having specialised in medieval and modern music history. Her other principal qualification was LRAM in pianoforte.