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Royal Society Biographical Memoirs – now free to read online!

Mike GlazerHelen Eaton
[RS biographical memoirs]

The Royal Society is a learned society and the UK's national academy of sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II, and is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society fulfills many roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement. It also performs these roles for the smaller countries of the Commonwealth.

For many years the Royal Society has been publishing extended obituaries of its Fellows and Foreign Members. The Biographical Memoirs are recognised as definitive accounts of the life and work of these eminent scientists, providing a valuable resource for both scientists and historians of science. Until recently, some of these memoirs were available to subscribers only, but they are now all free to read online.

Each memoir is carefully researched and creatively written, usually by a close colleague or research collaborator. The main focus is the science and scientific endeavour, but the memoirs also offer a fascinating insight into the character and personalities of the individuals involved. Readers can discover how the science was achieved within the historical context, and follow the development of specific scientific disciplines and fields of research.

Many of the great scientists of interest to crystallographers have been celebrated within the publication. Some crystallographers have been Presidents of the Royal Society; indeed, the current president, Venki Ramakrishnan, is well known to us.

Do visit the publication’s website to search for other scientists or subject areas.

Below is a list of those whom we believe will be of interest to the crystallography community. We are sure that many will be instantaneously recognised, but others will probably be less well known to you.[1] For those of you interested in the history of crystallography, the Royal Society’s Biographical Memoirs collection is a rich and unique treasure trove.

[U W Arndt]Ulrich Wolfgang Arndt

1924–2006

[R A Cowley]Roger Arthur Cowley

1939–2015 

[H S Lipson]Henry Solomon 
Lipson

1910–1991 

[S Arnott]Struther Arnott

1934–2013 

[E G Cox]Ernest Gordon Cox

1906–1996 

[K Lonsdale]Kathleen Lonsdale

1903–1971 

[W T Astbury]William Astbury

1898–1961 

[F H C Crick]Francis Harry Compton Crick

1916–2004

[H A Miers]Henry Alexander Miers

1858–1942

[C G Barkla]Charles Glover Barkla

1877–1944 

[D W J Cruickshank]Durward W. J. Cruickshank

1924–2007

[F R N Nabarro]Frank Reginald Nunes Nabarro

1916–2006 

[W Barlow]William Barlow

1845–1934 

[C G Darwin]Charles Galton 
Darwin

1887–1962

[D W Pashley]Donald William Pashley

1927–2009

[J D Bernal]John Desmond Bernal

1901–1971 

[G Dodson]Guy Dodson

1937–2012 

[L C Pauling]Linus Carl Pauling

1901–1994 

[J M Bijvoet]Johannes Martin Bijvoet

1892–1980

[P P Ewald]Paul Peter Ewald

1888–1985 

[M F Perutz]Max Ferdinand Perutz

1914–2002

[D M Blow]David Mervyn Blow

1931–2004

[J T Finch]John Thomas Finch

1930–2017 

[D C Phillips]David Chilton Phillips

1924–1999 

[A J Bradley]Albert James Bradley

1899–1972

[F C Frank]Frederick Charles 
Frank

1911–1998

[W J Pope]William Jackson Pope

1870–1939 

[W H Bragg]William Henry 
Bragg

1862–1942

[J Friedel]Jacques Friedel

1921–2014 

[H M Powell]Herbert Marcus Powell

1906–1991 

[W L Bragg]William Lawrence 
Bragg

1890–1971  

[V M Goldschmidt]Victor Moritz 
Goldschmidt

1888–1947

[G N Ramachandran]Gopalasamudram Narayana Ramachandran

1922–2001 

[B N Brockhouse]Bertram Neville Brockhouse

1918–2003 

[D M C Hodgkin]Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin

1910–1994 

[C V Raman]Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman

1888–1970 

[M de Broglie]Maurice
de Broglie

1875–1960 

[W Hume-Rothery]William 
Hume-Rothery

1899–1968

[J T Randall]John Turton Randall

1905–1984 

[C W Bunn]Charles William 
Bunn

1905–1990 

[R W James]Reginald William 
James

1891–1964 

[J M Robertson]John Monteath Robertson

1900–1989 

[S Chandrasekhar]Sivaramakrishna 
Chandrasekhar

1930–2004 

[J C Kendrew]John Cowdery 
Kendrew

1917–1997 

[G I Taylor]Geoffrey Ingram Taylor

1886–1975 

[J W Christian]John Wyrill 
Christian

1926–2001 

[A Klug]Aaron Klug

1926–2018

[G P Thomson]George Paget Thomson

1892–1975 

[W Cochran]William Cochran

1922–2003 

[A R Lang]Andrew Richard Lang

1924–2008 

[M H F Wilkins]Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins

1916–2004

[J M Cowley]John Maxwell 
Cowley

1923–2004 

[M F von Laue]Max Ferdinand 
von Laue

1879–1960 

 
 


[1] It is worth mentioning that the American Crystallographic Association has an excellent website dealing with crystallographers in history (including some who are still alive!). See also the IUCr's Biographical notes on individual crystallographers.

 

Mike Glazer is Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, UK, and Editor of the IUCr Newsletter. Helen Eaton is Senior Commissioning Editor of the Royal Society's Biographical Memoirs, London, UK.
15 January 2020

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