Marsden was the son of cotton Weaver Thomas Marsden Holden and Phoebe. He obtained his education at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Blackburn and the University of Manchester. In 1907 the University was Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford appointed to Professor of physics. Under the supervision of Rutherford he carried out together with the German postdoc Hans Geiger in 1909 it made famous gold leaf experiment. It figured out Rutherford Atom modelare; an Atom consists of a hard core where the electrons circling around it. On the basis of Marsden and concluded that the core measurements not Geigers was greater than 10-13 feet in diameter, about a thousand times smaller than the size of an atom. Marsden received his Ph.d. in 1914.
Intercession of Rutherford was Marsden in 1915 appointed Professor of physics at the Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. During the first world war he served in France as a Royal Engineer and with which he with the Military Cross was awarded. After the war, he was a leading scientist in New Zealand. From 1926 to 1947 he was Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (RANDY). During theSecond World War he studied the radar systems and in 1947 he was for RANDY liaison officer in London.
He retired In 1954 and he returned to New Zealand. Four years later he was knighted (Knight Bachelor). He died in 1970 at home in Wellington after he was hit by a stroke in 1966.