The issue of how the Royal Society has influenced science in the twentieth century is a complex one, and it is not easy to show its impact. It is even more difficult to demonstrate the effect of being a FRS on individual careers. This paper looks at three leading organic chemists in twentieth-century Britain who were connected academically—Perkin, Robinson and Todd. Did their relatively early Fellowships of the Royal Society deliver glittering careers? This study shows that career advancement in twentieth-century chemistry was a complex interaction between scientific merit, social networks and that elusive quality, scientific reputation. Being a Fellow of the Royal Society is one element in this mix, but it was not the decisive one for our trio. However, this paper suggests that having a supervisor who is a FRS is a key factor both in achieving a glittering career and becoming a FRS.
How has the Royal Society influenced science in the twentieth century? There are two obvious answers to this question. As the national academy of science, the Royal Society has collaborated with other national bodies in the international arena. It has done much to foster international collaboration, not least after the two World Wars and during the Cold War. At first hesitantly and then more boldly, the Royal Society has sought to influence science and technology policy and promote science more generally, notably in setting up the Science and Engineering Policy Studies Unit in 1985 and in the same year setting up the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) in collaboration with the Royal Institution and the then British Association for the Advancement of Science. But are there ways that the Royal Society has directly shaped British science? If the research professorships and research fellowships awarded by the Royal Society are given to scientists in new fields or disciplines with only a small number of tenured scientists, these research appointments could have a powerful effect on the development of these new or marginal areas. An example is the appointment of Robert J. P. Williams of Oxford University as Napier Research Professor of the Royal Society in 1975 and the field of bioinorganic chemistry.
So far, I have said nothing about the Fellowship. Does election to the Fellowship count for nothing in practical terms? There was one intriguing possibility. In 1989 I had given a talk to the Royal Society of Chemistry's Historical Group about chemical family trees and the persistence of research interests through different academic generations.1 Among other lines of descent, I looked at the Perkin–Robinson–Todd–Kenner tree. I recalled that Alexander Todd had been elected to the Royal Society just before he was appointed to the chair at Cambridge in 1944. Could he have been elected to make sure he got the chair at Cambridge? And if so, could this also apply to the appointment of Perkin and Robinson to chairs at Manchester?
William Henry Perkin Jr (1860–1929)
Perkin was the son of William Henry Perkin, the famous discoverer of mauve.2 He went in 1877 to the Royal College of Science, the successor to the Royal College of Chemistry attended by his father, which had moved to South Kensington in 1872. The Professor of Chemistry was Edward Frankland, who knew the elder Perkin and nominated him for the Royal Society's Royal Medal two years later.3 In South Kensington the younger Perkin published papers with W. R. E. Hodgkinson, the head of the laboratories, who had taken his PhD at Würzburg under Johannes Wislicenus. Perkin likewise went to Würzburg and took his PhD under Wislicenus. He then went to Munich to work under Adolf Baeyer, who was one of the greatest organic chemists in Europe at the time. Perkin's work on his Habilitation was on the mundane topic of benzoylacetic acid, but he then turned to the more controversial issue of small carbon rings. Just as the chemists of the day had problems conceiving of very large molecules, they rejected the idea that there could be any carbon rings smaller than six carbon atoms. Perkin used his background in condensation reactions to make a cyclobutane from ethylene dibromide and ethyl acetoacetate. Subsequently Perkin himself discovered that the product was actually a six-membered enolate ring, but this time, emboldened by his initial ‘success’, Perkin had synthesized genuine three-membered and four-membered carbon rings.
Perkin left Munich in 1886 and worked for a year with Harold Bailey Dixon, who had just succeeded Henry Enfield Roscoe as Professor of Chemistry, at the Owens College, Manchester. One might wonder why Perkin worked with Dixon, a physical chemist, rather than Britain's first Professor of Organic Chemistry, Carl Schorlemmer. But as Jack Morrell has pointed out, Schlorlemmer only lectured and wrote; he did not create a research school.4 This short period was crucial for Perkin's later work, for it was here that he first took up the investigation of the natural dyes brazilin and haematoxylin that were so central to his own work and that of his student Robert Robinson. He then obtained the Chair of Chemistry at the newly founded Heriot-Watt College in Edinburgh, against some competition.5 This was a rather surprising move on his part, because it was essentially a night school rather than a fully fledged university and Perkin had no Scottish connections. Perkin began his research on the alkaloids, such as berberine, here.
In February 1890 he was nominated for Fellowship of the Royal Society, specifically for his work on small carbon rings.6 The long list of his supporters was headed by Francis R. Japp and Adolf von Baeyer. Japp's paths tended to diverge from rather than cross Perkin's. He was in Edinburgh working under Alexander Crum Brown, although several years before Perkin arrived in the city, and he went to the Royal College of Science just as Perkin was leaving for Germany. Most of the other scientists on the list can be described as being the London chemical circle, including Edward Frankland, W. J. Russell (Frankland's former assistant), Thomas Thorpe, William Tilden, William Crookes, John Hall Gladstone and Herbert McLeod. The single exception was Crum Brown, Perkin's counterpart at the nearby University of Edinburgh. It is hard to avoid the impression that several of these sponsors were doing it as a favour to his father. Nonetheless his work on small carbon rings was remarkable, and Baeyer once said that he regarded Perkin as one of his two best students, the other being Emil Fischer. Perkin was elected in June 1890 and two years later, on Schlorlemmer's death, he was appointed Professor of Organic Chemistry at Manchester. Once again, Dixon seems to have been the moving force behind his appointment, because there was no competition for the post. Perkin's research took a new direction in 1910 when he began a collaboration on the commercial development of synthetic rubber with the chemical consultants Strange and Graham with his protégé Chaim Weizmann. Unfortunately this eventually led to a falling out between Perkin and Weizmann, which meant that the Manchester chair was filled on Perkin's departure to Oxford by his brother-in-law Arthur Lapworth rather than Weizmann, who was given a readership in biochemistry.7
When William Odling retired as Waynflete Professor of Chemistry at Oxford in 1912, Perkin, who was regarded as the leading organic chemist in Britain, was invited to be a member of the appointment committee, but he then withdraw to enable his name to be put forward for the chair.8 Edward B. Poulton, the Hope Professor of Zoology and a keen reformer of Oxford science, was eager to get Perkin to come to Oxford, probably because of his reputation as a research scientist and his building of new laboratories in Manchester. The Royal Society, and Perkin's standing as a Fellow, were seemingly not major considerations: his reputation as a major researcher was sufficient in itself.
Sir Robert Robinson (1886–1975)
Robinson was the son of William Bradbury Robinson, the grandson of William Robinson, who had founded the family firm of Robinson & Sons in Chesterfield in 1794, which made surgical dressings.9 Robinson went to Manchester University in 1902. Soon after he entered Perkin's laboratory as a PhD student in 1905, he was allocated to the study of the two natural dyes that were a long-standing interest of Perkin's—brazilin and haematoxylin—which led to a lifetime's work on flower pigments. Robinson's other great interest, alkaloids, also began while he was working with Perkin. In 1912 the University of Sydney created a Chair of Pure and Applied Chemistry, and Robinson was appointed on Perkin's recommendation although he was only 26 years old. Again one can see the importance of Perkin's position as the most highly regarded organic chemist in Britain.
Only three years later, the Heath Harrison Chair at Liverpool University was founded by Sir Heath Harrison, a local shipping magnate. Fortunately for Robinson, the British Association for the Advancement of Science had held its 1914 meeting in Australia, initially at Perth and then in Sydney. Several members of the nomination committee had met him there (and perhaps felt sorry for him in his scientific isolation). In these days before commercial flights, Robinson was not available for interview but he was supported by testimonials from H. E. Armstrong, N. V. Sidgwick, W. J. Pope and his friend from Manchester days, J. F. Thorpe.10 Above all, he was recommended by Perkin. This strong support was fortunate, given his enforced absence, because this was the stiffest competition he ever faced for an academic position. The other chemists on the shortlist were Kennedy J. P. Orton, at the University College of North Wales, and Samuel Smiles, at University College London (UCL); both were older than Robinson, and like Robinson they were elected Fellows of the Royal Society a few years later. The backing of the most famous organic chemist in Britain was clearly decisive.
There were two important outcomes of Robinson's stay in Liverpool. In 1917 he published his famous synthesis of tropinone under mild conditions. During World War I he built up close links with the new firm of British Dyes Ltd (formerly Read Holliday) of Huddersfield, which was struggling to make the dyes previously obtained from Germany. This link led to Robinson's appointment as Director of Research at the Huddersfield factory of its successor, the British Dyestuffs Corporation (BDC), in 1919. Robinson was not happy in this position, partly because of the fierce rivalry with the parallel research department at the former Levinstein factory at Blackley, Manchester, headed by Arthur G. Green FRS.
Robinson was nominated as a Fellow of the Royal Society in December 1918 while he was still in Liverpool, but he was not elected until May 1920.11 The list of his nominators was headed by his former professors at Manchester, Harold B. Dixon and W. H. Perkin Jr. One can see the hand of Perkin in this nomination. Apart from his own signature, the nomination was supported by his brother Arthur Perkin and his brothers-in-law Arthur Lapworth and Stanley Kipping, and his student Jocelyn Thorpe. Another sponsor was Cyril Baly, who was the other chemistry professor at Liverpool when Robinson was the Heath Harrison Professor. Other supporters included Edward Thorpe and Percy Frankland as well as the organic chemists William Tilden, James Dobbie and Arthur Green, who was not yet a rival at BDC. It is perhaps surprising that he was not supported by H. E. Armstrong or William Pope, although they had supported his application for the Liverpool chair. The nomination emphasized his work on brazilin and alkaloids and his biogenesis speculations, but, interestingly, not his now celebrated synthesis of tropinone, which may have seemed (deceptively) too easy. Similarly, it mentioned his wartime work on drugs, notably the local anaesthetic β-eucaine, and his services to the Chemical Warfare Department rather than his collaboration with British Dyes.
With his Fellowship in the bag, Robinson was now anxious to return to academia, but opportunities were limited. Lapworth at Manchester, for example, still had more than a decade to go before he retired. At this point, however, the eminent organic chemist James Irvine was made principal of his university, St Andrews, and the Chair of Chemistry was vacant. Although Robinson had to go through the formal process of applying, there were no other candidates under serious consideration and his new Fellowship doubtlessly aided Robinson's appointment in May 1921.12 He was supported by several of the chemists who had nominated him for a Fellowship—Perkin, Kipping and Jocelyn Thorpe—and two chemists who had supported his application to Liverpool, Armstrong and Pope.
Again, Robinson's stay was short as a result of unexpected developments at Manchester. Harold Dixon retired in 1922, but Lapworth was given his chair although he was an organic chemist. Robinson's appointment as Professor of Organic Chemistry at Manchester was effectively a ‘shoo-in’: there was no advertisement and he was the only candidate considered.13 Indeed, it is more than likely that Lapworth was given Dixon's chair to free up his chair for Robinson, although in many ways he was not temperamentally suited to the task of running a chemistry department. Robinson did not need to be a FRS to obtain this chair; he was already respected at Manchester.
By contrast, Robinson's move to UCL in 1928 was a puzzle to both his biographers, Alexander Todd and Trevor Williams, despite the fact that Todd was a close friend.14 For its part, it is clear that UCL was keen to acquire Robinson. It seems that his attraction lay in his industrial experience at BDC and his membership of ICI's new research council set up by Sir Alfred Mond.15 Frederick Donnan, a professor at UCL since 1913 and, crucially in this context, Head of the Chemistry Department between 1928 and 1937, favoured collaboration with industry; one of his students, Francis Freeth, had become Head of Research at Brunner Mond and the moving force behind ICI's research council.16 Robinson's industrial links were further strengthened when he joined ICI's new Dyestuffs Group Research Committee in 1929.
However, Robinson's time at UCL was cut short by Perkin's death in September 1929. In contrast with Robinson's earlier appointments (and even Perkin's appointment in 1912), the selection of the new Waynflete Professor was very formal and the board of electors was formed to make the appointment.17 Among them were chemists who had supported Robinson's previous applications—Pope and Gordon—but there were others who perhaps were less familiar with Robinson, such as George Gordon, the English scholar and new President of Magdalen College, and Sir Henry Miers, Professor of Mineralogy. But Robinson was effectively in the same position as Perkin almost two decades earlier—the most eminent organic chemist in Britain—and his appointment was effectively a formality. It helped that he had maintained many of the research interests he had gained from Perkin such as brazilin and the alkaloids. Robinson obtained an extension to his appointment in 1951 and retired in 1955. He was replaced by Tim (later Sir Ewart) Jones of Manchester University.
Alexander, Lord Todd (1907–97)
Todd's father, also Alexander Todd, was a railway clerk when he was born in the Glasgow suburb of Cathcart in 1907, but he eventually became Managing Director of the Drapery and Furnishing Co-operative Society in Glasgow.18 Todd's first break was to pass the entrance examination for Allan Glen's School, the leading science school in Glasgow. He then went to the University of Glasgow to study chemistry. His education was much boosted by scholarships. He quickly gained a scholarship at Glasgow and after he graduated in 1928 he was given a Carnegie Research Scholarship to conduct postgraduate research with Professor Thomas S. Paterson. Paterson worked on optical rotatory dispersion, which later became an important technique in the field of steroid structure but at that time was rather dry without any clear value.19 Todd therefore used his scholarship, with Paterson's blessing, to study the chemistry of bile acids under Walther Borsche at the University of Frankfurt.
After obtaining his PhD in 1931, Todd successfully gained an 1851 Exhibition Scholarship to work with Robert Robinson, who had just moved to Oxford. This period at Oxford, during which he studied natural pigments, was pivotal to Todd's later career. Vitamins were the rising field at this time, and Todd was happy to accept an opportunity in 1934 to move to Edinburgh to work with George Barger (a former Robinson student) on vitamin B1. Working in collaboration with Hoffmann-La Roche, Todd was in competition with Robert R. Williams at Merck in the USA. After moving to Bell Laboratories, Williams became the respected research leader of the American synthetic rubber programme in World War II.20 Williams was the first to find the correct structure of vitamin B1 and the first to synthesize it, but Todd's synthesis, which appeared a few months later, was considered more elegant. More importantly, Todd met his future wife, Alison Dale, the daughter of Sir Henry Dale, who was soon to become President of the Royal Society; they were married in January 1937. Todd then moved to London in 1936 to work at the Lister Institute on vitamin E and then the cannibinols.
Having been appointed to a readership at the Lister, Todd—supported by Robinson and Dale—became something of a hot property academically. He accepted a professorship at Toronto but turned it down when it was downgraded to an assistant professorship. He was on the brink of setting up a department of bioorganic chemistry at the California Institute of Technology with the financial support of the Rockefeller Foundation when a telegram arrived from Manchester University asking him to come up for a chat, following Ian Heilbron's move to Imperial College. This ‘little talk’ on 19 May 1938 turned out to be a formal interview for the Sir Samuel Hall Chair of Chemistry! It was only just short of a ‘shoo-in’—there was one other candidate interviewed: James Cook.21 Patrick Linstead and Edmund L. Hirst out of a longlist of seven were also seriously considered. They were all older than Todd, and two (Hirst and Cook) were FFRS, but Todd was offered the chair on the spot. He was only 30 years old and not yet a FRS. It has been suggested that Todd was anxious to stay in Britain with war looming, but this does not explain why he was offered the chair.22 Leading chemists in Britain may have been concerned about such a promising young chemist leaving for America—Linstead left for Harvard in 1939 but returned in 1942—and Todd would have been backed by Robinson. So once again we can see the importance of good connections and scientific reputation.
When he arrived in Manchester in the autumn of 1938, Todd decided to move into the new field of nucleotides, some of which were known to contain vitamins as part of their structure. However, when he was nominated as a Fellow of the Royal Society in December 1941, the nomination mentioned his earlier work on vitamin B1 and thiochrome, an oxidation product of thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin E and the cannabinols (‘the constitution of constituents of hashish’).23 His nomination was clearly spearheaded by Robinson and Dale, with the support of Todd's old boss, Sir John Ledingham, Director of the Lister Institute. Robinson marshalled the Oxford chemists and other friends (N. V. Sidgwick, Cyril Hinshelwood, E. J. Bowen, Harold Hartley, John Simonsen and I. M. Heilbron), and Dale drafted his biomedical friends (Warrington Yorke, Joseph Barcroft and Frank Pyman).24 An independent supporter was James Kenner, a chemistry professor at the nearby Manchester College of Technology (later University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology), whose son George had recently gone to the University of Manchester to study chemistry. George followed Todd to Cambridge and became one of his protégés. The older Kenner doubtless knew Todd through his friend Lapworth.
It cannot be said that there was a compelling case for Todd to become a FRS on scientific grounds. He had synthesized vitamin B1 but he was not the first person to do so. He had now moved into the field of nucleotides, which was to establish his reputation and his Nobel Prize, but it was still a work in progress. Was there a pressing reason for nominating him in 1941? Frederick Gowland Hopkins, the Professor of Biochemistry at Cambridge, was about to retire and the Chair of Chemistry had been vacant since 1939. By contrast, Robinson's chair at Oxford would not be available until 1951 at the earliest. His backers, Robinson and Dale, clearly saw Cambridge as Todd's big chance to create a major department in his own mould and that his being a FRS would make his appointment secure, just as Perkin's FRS in 1890 smoothed the way for his appointment at Manchester in 1892. Todd was elected on 19 March 1942.
However, neither department was particularly attractive to Todd, and the chemical laboratories in Cambridge were seriously run down.25 The laboratories were so backward that they still had gas lighting.26 He turned down the Chair of Biochemistry on Hopkins's retirement in 1943, because he wanted to stay in chemistry despite encouragement from Robinson and Dale to take it. It seems that there was no serious competition for the chair. Todd only reluctantly accepted the chemistry chair a year later after some tough negotiations about new laboratories and facilities. However, Cambridge was one of England's leading universities, and just as Perkin had reluctantly taken up the mantle at Oxford to ensure it became a national leader in organic chemistry, Todd accepted the challenge of restoring Cambridge to the first rank of chemistry departments in Britain.
Todd had a heart attack in March 1970 and resigned his chair at Cambridge a year later. He was succeeded by Ralph Raphael, who had been educated at Imperial College and had then gone to Glasgow University.27 Similarly, Jack Baldwin, when he replaced Sir Ewart Jones in Oxford in 1978, had no connection with Manchester, Oxford or Cambridge, having been educated at Imperial College and taught at Pennsylvania State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and King's College, London.28 Todd's protégé George Kenner continued the line in Robinson's old chair at Liverpool,29 but the Perkin group's domination of chemistry at Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester (and British organic chemistry more generally) had come to an end.
In this paper I have discussed the careers of three connected figures in British organic chemistry in the first half of the twentieth century. In particular I have examined their appointments to university chairs and their elections as Fellows of the Royal Society. My aim in doing so has been to show that being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society can lead to an appointment to a leading chair in a given field. In this way the Royal Society would have an influence on science beyond its direct actions as an institution.
If we are considering the impact of being a FRS on their careers, we must first examine the situation when they were elected. Perkin and Robinson were at second-rank institutions when they were nominated (Heriot-Watt was not even a university at the time), and for each of them an opening at a better university was in prospect. Although Todd was at Manchester when he was nominated, the chair at Cambridge was already on the horizon. So one might argue that the leading supporters of these three chemists were anxious to gain the prestige of a FRS for their protégés before their interviews for better chairs.
Yet it is clear that their protégés hardly needed the Fellowship to gain their chairs, and thus my initial hypothesis is incorrect. They did not face any serious competition for their post-FRS chairs, and Todd even turned down the first Cambridge chair he was offered. Even for the most eminent chairs that these three chemists obtained, their Fellowships of the Royal Society were not particularly relevant. It is clear that they were appointed to their respective Oxford and Cambridge chairs as a result of their reputations as Britain's leading organic chemists. It was more a case of the universities begging them to take the chairs rather than carrying out a severe scrutiny of their credentials. This suggests an alternative possibility: that they were nominated for Fellowships not so much to promote careers but to allow the respective universities to make the appointments without undue embarrassment. If there was any one factor that smoothed the path of their appointments it was not so much their being FRS as the reliance of the appointing universities on the recommendations of other leading chemists, which favoured those with good scientific connections such as our three chemists, and the failure of appointment committees to consider foreign candidates.
It is remarkable how little competition our three chemists faced in their careers. As far as one can tell, Perkin faced no competition for his two academic appointments after Heriot-Watt. Similarly, Robinson faced little or no competition for five of his six chairs. Todd was appointed to only two chairs: in Manchester there was nominal competition from James Cook, but one suspects that this was largely to fill the post if Todd decided to go to Pasadena; at Cambridge, Todd was offered two chairs without any competition and reluctantly accepted one of them.
So if one accepts that connections and reputation (and to be fair, being a good scientist) are the making of a stellar career, at least in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century, are there any factors involving the Royal Society that come to bear on this? If one keeps in mind that they became Fellows of the Royal Society at a relatively young age, it follows that they must have become close acquaintances of existing Fellows when they were still young. Thus, is the key factor being supervised or at least mentored by a FRS? Are future FFRS more likely to be supervised by FFRS?
I tested this hypothesis by finding the supervisors (or other early mentors) of the Officers of the Royal Society between 1940 and 1990. This is a good group to take, because earlier FFRS educated in the British system were even less likely to take PhDs (and thus have supervisors), whereas more recent FFRS are unlikely to have found their way into works of reference or to have had biographical memoirs written about them. There are 41 Fellows of the Royal Society in this group (see table 1). I have not been able to identify supervisors or other early mentors for five of them. For the remaining 36 members of the group, I have found 42 supervisors/mentors. Of these supervisors/mentors, 37 were themselves FFRS. Of the remaining five, two were foreign scientists (one a Nobel laureate). Thus, the overwhelming majority of senior members of the Royal Society were themselves supervised or at least mentored by other Fellows of the Royal Society. Does it matter if the supervisor became a FRS after the student was supervised or mentored by them? As 12 of the supervisors/mentors became Fellows after their students became PhDs or academics (nearly one-third of the total), this does not seem to be crucial. Clearly, more work needs to be done on this hypothesis and greater statistical rigour applied to the results, but these findings are at least suggestive.
If the hypothesis that your future career as a scientist is influenced by your supervisor's being a FRS is correct, this study has also shown briefly that your supervisor can influence your lifelong research interests. This may seem a recipe for conservative research, and that certainly seems to have been the case for Perkin through to Todd, although Robinson pioneered the electronic theory of organic chemistry and Todd developed nucleic acid chemistry, neither of which could have been predicted from Perkin's own research. However, this point also shows the value of electing FFRS in new fields. Perhaps the long-term significance of these elections is not so much the acceptance of a new field by the scientific establishment, and hence the entry of other scientists into the field, as the fact—according to my hypothesis—that the students supervised by the pioneer FRS will enjoy successful careers, including their own election as FFRS. Take, for example, Professor Williams working in the new field of bioinorganic chemistry, who has had four FFRS among the ranks of his research students: Peter Day (1980), Allen Hill (1990), Christopher Dobson (1996) and Peter Sadler (2005).30 However, the issue of the transmission of research topics across generations is a large one and deserves a paper in its own right. Here I have shown a relationship between being supervised by FFRS and the chances of being elected oneself, which is usually taken to be the hallmark of a successful scientific career. Thus, being a Fellow of the Royal Society really did make a difference in the twentieth century.
↵1 Peter J. T. Morris, ‘“Chemical families”: the Perkin “family tree”’ [summary], R. Soc. Chem. Historical Group Newsl. (January), 23–25 (1990).
↵2 There is no modern full-length biography of Perkin. The personal information in this paper is taken from J. F. T. [Jocelyn F. Thorpe], ‘William Henry Perkin, 1860–1929’, Proc. R. Soc. A 130, i–xii (1931), S. G. P. Plant, ‘William Henry Perkin, Jun.’, in British chemists (ed. Alexander Findlay and William Hobson Mills), pp. 176–218 (Chemical Society, London, 1947), and Jack Morrell, ‘W. H. Perkin, Jr., at Manchester and Oxford: from Irwell to Isis’, Osiris (2), 8, 104–126 (1993). See also A. John Greenaway, Jocelyn F. Thorpe and Robert Robinson, The life and work of Professor William Henry Perkin (Chemical Society, London, 1932).
↵3 Colin A. Russell, Edward Frankland: chemistry, controversy and conspiracy in Victorian England (Cambridge University Press, 1996), at p. 460.
↵4 Morrell, op. cit. (note 2), at p. 107.
↵5 Unfortunately there are no papers relating to this appointment extant in the archives of Heriot-Watt University (personal communication from Helen Taylor, Archives, Records Management and Museum Service, Heriot-Watt University, 16 April 2010).
↵6 See the nomination certificate online at http://www2.royalsociety.org/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqPos=62&dsqSearch=%28%28%28text%29%3D%27todd%27%29AND%28RefNo%3D%27ec%27%29%29 (accessed 31 March 2010).
↵7 Morrell, op. cit. (note 2), at p. 113; Jehuda Reinharz, Chaim Weizmann: the making of a Zionist leader (Oxford University Press, New York, 1985), at pp. 359–367. Reinharz regards Lapworth's appointment as irregular, not realizing that this kind of informal appointment without serious competition was normal in British chemical circles at this time, as the present paper demonstrates.
↵8 For a full account of his appointment, see Rachel Curtis, Catherine Leith, Joshua Nall and John Jones, The Dyson Perrins Laboratory and Oxford organic chemistry, 1916–2004 (published privately, Oxford, 2008), at pp. 14–22; for the speculation about Weizmann and Robinson, see Morrell, op. cit. (note 2), at p. 114.
↵9 For biographical information about Robert Robinson, see the low-key biography by Trevor I. Williams, Robert Robinson: chemist extraordinary (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990), and the superb personal biography in Lord Todd and J. W. Cornforth, ‘Robert Robinson, 1886–1975’, Biogr. Mems Fell. R. Soc. 22, 415–527 (1976), at pp. 415–430.
↵10 For this appointment see Williams, op. cit. (note 9), at pp. 36–38, and Todd and Cornforth, op. cit. (note 9), at p. 420.
↵11 See the nomination certificate online at http://www2.royalsociety.org/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqPos=32&dsqSearch=%28%28%28text%29%3D%27robinson%27%29AND%28RefNo%3D%27ec%27%29%29 (accessed 31 March 2010).
↵12 Williams, op. cit. (note 9), at p. 50.
↵13 Williams, op. cit. (note 9), at p. 54. That it was an unopposed appointment was confirmed by the University of Manchester Archives (personal communication from James Peters, University of Manchester Archives, 26 March 2010).
↵14 Williams, op. cit. (note 9), at pp. 63–64; Todd and Cornforth, op. cit. (note 9), at p. 423 (‘the writer’ here is clearly Todd).
↵15 Gerrylynn K. Roberts, ‘Physical chemists for industry: the making of the chemist at University College London, 1914–1939’, Centaurus 39, 291–310 (1997), at footnote 19, p. 309. I thank Dr Roberts for a helpful discussion, via email, of Robinson's appointment.
↵16 Roberts, op. cit. (note 15), passim, and Freeth's role at p. 301.
↵17 Williams, op. cit. (note 9), p. 67; see also Jones et al., op. cit. (note 8), at p. 43.
↵18 For biographical information about Lord Todd see his autobiography (Alexander Todd, A time to remember: the autobiography of a chemist (Cambridge University Press, 1983)) and Daniel M. Brown and Hans Kornberg, ‘Alexander Robertus Todd OM, Baron Todd of Trumpington, 1907–1997’, Biogr. Mems Fell. R. Soc. 46, 515–532 (2000).
↵19 For an account of optical rotatory dispersion and its value for steroid chemistry, see Otto Theodor Benfey and Peter J. T. Morris, ‘The octant rule’, in Robert Burns Woodward: artist and architect in the world of molecules, pp. 239–243 (Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, 2001).
↵20 Peter J. T. Morris, The American synthetic rubber research program (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1989), at pp. 12–13 and 52–53.
↵21 Personal communication from James Peters, University of Manchester Archives, 29 March 2010. Todd (op. cit. (note 18), at p. 45) states incorrectly that Linstead was also interviewed. Perhaps the university did not want him to know that it had effectively been a ‘shoo-in’.
↵22 Brown and Kornberg, op. cit. (note 18), at pp. 520–521, partly supported by Todd, op. cit. (note 18), at p. 44.
↵23 See the online nomination certificate at http://www2.royalsociety.org/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqPos=20&dsqSearch=%28%28%28text%29%3D%27perkin%27%29AND%28RefNo%3D%27ec%27%29%29 (accessed 31 March 2010).
↵24 For Dale's relationship with Pyman, see E. M. Tansey, ‘Henry Dale, histamine and anaphylaxis: reflections on the role of chance in the history of allergy’, Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci. C 34, 455–472 (2003). Robinson also knew Pyman through Boots's research committee.
↵25 For Todd's relationship with Cambridge during World War II and the state of the laboratories, see James Baddiley and Daniel M. Brown, ‘Alexander Todd: a new direction in chemistry’, in The 1702 chair in chemistry at Cambridge: transformation and change (ed. Mary D. Archer and Christopher D. Haley), pp. 210–236 (Cambridge University Press, 2005), at pp. 210–216.
↵26 Brown and Kornberg, op. cit. (note 18), at p. 522.
↵27 Bill Nolan, Dudley Williams and Robert Ramage, ‘Ralph Alexander Raphael: organic synthesis—elegance, efficiency and the unexpected’, in The 1702 chair in chemistry at Cambridge: transformation and change (ed. Mary D. Archer and Christopher D. Haley), pp. 237–256 (Cambridge University Press, 2005), at pp. 237–247.
↵28 Entry for Sir Jack Baldwin in Who's Who online at http://www.ukwhoswho.com/view/article/oupww/whoswho/U6289/BALDWIN_Sir_Jack_Edward?index=1&results=QuicksearchResults&query=0 (accessed 31 March 2010; available only to subscribers).
↵29 Kenner's role as the academic successor of Perkin, Robinson and Todd was suggested to me in 1989 by Ursula Tokle of the Royal Society, who knew Todd and Kenner personally. Sadly Kenner took his own life at the age of 55 years; see Lord Todd, ‘George Wallace Kenner, 1922–1978’, Biogr. Mems Fell. R. Soc. 25, 391–420 (1979).
↵30 Personal communication from Professor R. J. P. Williams, 1 April 2010. I am very grateful to Professor Williams for his assistance with this matter.
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