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, 52 Buckingham Road, Hampton Middx TW12 3JG, England. E-mail: jwnicholson

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 2015, are given below with a link to the PDF (828 KB).

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 jwnicholson 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.

Occasional Paper No 7. Nitrogen, Novel High-Pressure Chemistry, and the German War Effort (1900-1918) by Anthony S. Travis, April 2015

For a PDF copy of the Occasional Paper (532 KB) click here

No 67. Winter 2015 Newsletter

For a PDF copy of the Newsletter (828 KB) click here


From the Editor

  The Life and Work of Sir John Cornforth CBE AC FRS
  Royal Society of Chemistry News
  Feedback from the Summer 2014 Newsletter – Alwyn Davies
  Another Object to Identify — John Nicholson
  Published Histories of Chemistry Departments in Britain and Ireland – Bill Griffith

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

  News from the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
  News from the Historical Division of the German Chemical Society – W.H. Brock

  Jeremy Bentham, chemist manqué Alwyn Davies
  From Waterloo to Thiopentone: The Early Chemical History of Intravenous Anaesthesia – Alan Dronsfield, Pete Ellis and John Pring

  Philip W. Anderson, More and Different: Notes from a Thoughtful Curmudgeon – Derry W. Jones
  Michael Freemantle, The Chemists’ War 1914–1918 – Peter Reed
  Kersten T. Hall, The Man in the Monkeynut Coat – Bill Griffith
  Peter Reed, Acid Rain and the Rise of the Environmental Chemist in Nineteenth-Century Britain: The Life and Work of Robert Angus Smith – Anna Simmons

  Polanyi: Physical Chemist and Science Philosopher – Derry W. Jones

  RSC Chemical Landmark Plaque at Johnson Matthey Plc – Bill Griffith
  RSC Chemical Landmark Plaque honouring Thomas Graham at the University of Strathclyde - John Hudson
  RSC Chemical Landmark Plaque awarded to Saltend Chemicals Park, Hull – Alan Dronsfield
  Dan Eley: A Celebration of 100 Years of Life and Science – Mike Hey

  Chemistry & World War One – Peter Reed


Forthcoming Lectures

Calls for Papers

Forthcoming Meeting

Contents of previous Newsletters (1996-2014)

PDFs of previous Newsletters (2010-2014)

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

Last update 17 April, 2015

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