Royal Society of Chemistry


Web pages prepared by Dr G P Moss, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, England. E-mail:

Chairman: Dr J A Hudson, Graythwaite, Loweswater, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0SU, England. E-mail:

Secretary: Dr J Nicholson, School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Mary's University College, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, Middlesex, TW1 4SX, England. E-mail:

Treasurer: Dr P J T Morris, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD, E-mail:

Membership: Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England, E-mail:]

Newsletter Editor: Dr Anna Simmons, Epsom Lodge, La Grande Route de St Jean, St John, Jersey, JE3 4FL

The Historical Group exists to encourage an interest in the history of chemistry and chemical industry among members of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and others. Membership is open to non-members of the RSC and embraces a wide range from those whose interest in the history of chemistry is a hobby to teachers of chemistry at all levels and professional historians.

The Group holds twice yearly meetings when academic papers are read and discussed. Summaries of papers read at these meetings are included in the Historical Group Newsletter along with reviews of recent books in the subject and news of other meetings and forthcoming events. The Newsletter is published twice yearly. Contributions of not more than 500 words on topics of current interest in the history of chemistry are invited for inclusion at the discretion of the Editor. The contents of the last issue, Winter 2014, are given below with a link to the PDF (1.9 MB).

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on "The Life and Work of Sir John Cornforth CBE AC FRS" will be held on Wednesday 18 March 2015 at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BA [Click here for a map of the location of Burlington House which is labelled "The Royal Acad of Arts" (As well as the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House also contains the Geological Society, Linnean Society, Royal Astronomical Society and Society of Antiquaries)].

The Life and Work of Sir John Cornforth CBE AC FRS


13.30Registration and coffee
14.00Welcome (Dr John Hudson, Chairman, Historical Group)
First Session — Chair: Professor Sir Alan Battersby FRS (University of Cambridge)
14.00Introduction: Professor Sir Alan Battersby FRS
14.20Professor Douglas Young FRSE (University of Sussex)
   Early days: 'Kappa' Cornforth — Australia, Oxford University and the Medical Research Council (NIMR)
14.55Professor Tom Simpson FRSE FRS (University of Bristol)
   The Popják-Cornforth (PopCorn) collaboration on the stereochemistry of biosynthesis: NIMR and Milstead
15.30Tea interval
Second Session — Chair: Professor Chris Willis (University of Bristol)
15.50Professor Bernard Golding (Newcastle University)
   Kappa's application in biosynthetic studies of all the isotopes of Nature's simplest element
16.25Dr Tim Wallace (University of Manchester)
   Models of enzyme action: organic synthesis at Sussex University
17.00Concluding Remarks
17.15Close of meeting


There is no charge for this meeting, but prior registration is essential. Please e-mail Professor John Nicholson This is expected to be a popular meeting. If having registered, you are unable to attend, please notify Professor Nicholson.

How to join the Historical Group:

If you are a member of the RSC you should contact the Membership Department (01223 432141) quoting your name and membership number. When you have done this please inform the Group's Membership Secretary, Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England, E-mail:]. Those who are not qualified to join the RSC but who are interested in the history of chemistry are welcome to join the Group at an annual subscription of £12 per annum. Please send your name, address, phone number, email address and a cheque for £12 made out to "The Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group" to Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England. All members of the Group can download the Newsletter as a PDF. Hard copies are available if ordered in advance.

Other Useful Web pages

The Group maintains contact with colleagues in the Division of the History of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences.

The Library & Information Centre, Historical Chemistry Information Service.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation.

ACS Historical Division.

The Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry.

Details of Nobel Prize winners; portraits; and other details.

List of Nobel Prize winners for Chemistry.

Chemical Heritage Foundation.

History of Pharmacy Forum.

The History of Chemical Engineering.

The Classic Chemistry Page.

Alchemy Home Page.

Historic samples and specimens from the Chemistry Department, Imperial College, London.

History of chemistry in Heidelberg

Science & Civilisation in China Project (Needham Research Institute).

There is a History of Chemistry Mail List or email

To send messages email

Historical Group Newsletter
and Summary of Papers

Short articles on the history of chemistry for the Newsletter are welcome and should be sent to the editor, Dr Anna Simmons, Epsom Lodge, La Grande Route de St Jean, St John, Jersey, JE3 4FL Please consult the Instructions for Authors.

No 66. Summer 2014 Newsletter

For a PDF copy of the Newsletter (652 KB) click here


From the Editor

  Outbreak! Education Project launches at Catalyst Centre
  MBE awarded to Dr Diana Leitch (John Hudson)
  MBE awarded to Dr Peter Wothers (John Hudson)
  Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group AGM
  Minutes of the Thirty-Seventh AGM of the RSC Historical Group
  Dr Patricia Swain (Alan Dronsfield)


  A Choshu Five postscript – Alwyn Davies
  Eine fehlende Prüfungsaufgabe (A Missing Examination Paper) – Alan Dronsfield

CAN YOU HELP? Unidentified Items – Alwyn Davies

  The 2014 HIST awarded to Ernst Homburg, RSCHG Committee Member

  The Brunner-Mond Film Archive – Alan Dronsfield

  Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
  The Partington Prize 2014
  Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry

  Whatever happened to "Dropsy"? – Alan Dronsfield and Pete Ellis
  Yiddish Chemical Literature: A Brief Introduction – Stephen M. Cohen
  Dr Alphonse René le Mire de Normandy (1809-1864) – A Brief Biography – Debbie Radcliffe and Jim Birkett
  Edmund Albert Letts (1852-1918): A Pioneer Environmental Analytical Chemist – D. Thorburn Burns
  Mauveine - The Final Word? (4) – Chris Cooksey

  Jay A. Labinger, Up From Generality: How Inorganic Chemistry Finally Became a Respectable Field 2013 (Alan Dronsfield)
  André Authier, Early Days of X-Ray Crystallography, 2013 (Bill Griffith)

  RSC Chemical Landmark Plaque to Honour Dorothy Hodgkin – Alan Dronsfield

  A Revolution in Chemical Analysis and Instrumentation
  Chemistry as a Hobby



Contents of previous Newsletters (1996-2013)

PDFs of previous Newsletters (2010-2014)

Biographies of Chemists including Confusing Names 1-3 from Newsletters 1998-9

Last update 15 January, 2015

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