Edward Thornton Littlewood, a British mathematician, was the son of William E. Littlewood and his wife Laetitia Littlewood, born Thornton. He graduated as Bachelor of Science (BSc, London) and Master of Arts (MA, Cambridge, 1882). In 1892 he came to the Cape Colony and that same year was admitted to the MA degree of the University of the Cape of Good Hope on the basis of his British qualifications. He was a teacher and principal of the High School for Boys in Wynberg, Cape Town, to at least 1910. He also served as an examiner for the University of the Cape of Good Hope from 1892 to 1912, in various branches of mathematics and sometimes in parts of physics, for the BA and BA Honours degrees, the Certificate in the theory of land surveying, and the first Mining examinations. From 1893 to 1908 he furthermore served as a member of the Cape of Good Hope Meteorological Commission.
Littlewood joined the South African Philosophical Society in 1895, but ended his membership before 1906. By 1903 he was a member also of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science and, though not listed as such in 1906, was again a member by 1910. In October 1910 he read a paper before the Royal Society of South Africa (though he was not a member) on "Graphical representation of some of the simpler analytic functions of a complex variable". The paper was published in the society's Transactions (1910-1912, Vol. 2, pp. 173-182).
Littlewood was married to Sylvia Maud Ackland, with whom he had two surviving sons and a daughter. His eldest son, John Edensor Littlewood (1885-1977) became professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Father and son collaborated in publishing "Some remarkable approximate formulae arising in ballistics" in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society in 1938.