Edward Frankland: Chemistry, Controversy and Conspiracy in Victorian England

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This is the first scientific biography of Edward Frankland, probably the most eminent chemist of nineteenth century Britain. Amongst many other achievements, he discovered the chemical bond and founded the science of organometallic chemistry (both terms are his invention). A controversial figure throughout his life, he became a leading reformer of chemistry teaching and for nearly forty years the government's close adviser on the purity of urban water supplies, arguably preventing a pandemic of water-borne disease. From an apprenticeship in a druggist's shop in Lancaster, he proceeded to London to become assistant lecturer in chemistry to Lyon Playfair, and then to a Ph.D. in Marburg under Robert Bunsen. After occupying the first chair of chemistry at Manchester he spent the rest of his career at numerous institutions in London, culminating in what was to become Imperial College. He was knighted in 1897. Today a certain obscurity of reputation stems from the conspiracy of silence surrounding Frankland's origins: he was the illegitimate son of a distinguished lawyer. Frankland never gave interviews and posterity has had to guess about many of his activities. Recently, however, Professor Russell has gained access to a vast collection of his private papers, and has discovered several other major deposits, making the Frankland archive one of the largest collections of scientific papers to come to light in Britain this century. These have been fully examined in this new study which discloses, amongst much else, webs of conspiracy in the scientific community that demand a radical revision of the social history of Victorian science. Russell's authoritative and lively account of Frankland's achievements will be of great interest not only to professional chemists and historians of science, but also to general readers concerned with the social fabric of Victorian England.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This throughly reserached, excellent biography of an underappreciated Victorian chemist draws on newly investigated papers of the chemist and his family....His [Russell] book is well illustrated, fully referenced and indexed....Strongly recommended." H. Goldwhite, Choice

"Russell's thoroughly researched and meticulously documented book contains 52 illustrations and Frankland's original formulas along with their modern equivalents and it is methodically organized into numbered sections and subsections. He is completely objective and devoid of hero worship and states A biographer does no one a service by implying that his subject has no faults....We heartily recommend it to both historians of science and chemists interested in the development of their science." George B. Kauffman and Laura M. Kauffman

"Russell's thoroughly researched and meticulously documented book contains 52 illustrations and Frankland's original formulas along with their modern equivalents, and it is methodically organized....His book considers in engrossing and fascinating detail every aspect of Frankland's life and career and is likely to prove to be a definitive biography. We heartily recommend it to both historians od science and chemists interested in the development of their science." George B. Kauffman and Laurie M. Kauffman, Angew.Chem.Int.Ed.Engi

"Colin Russell's biography is significant.... Finally, on its considerable merits alone this is an important biography. It is comprehensive and well-written and reflects a lifetime's work on the life, science, and Victorian milieu of Edward Frankland." Christopher Ritter, Historical Studies in the Physical & Biological

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521496360
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1996
  • Pages: 555
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Lancastrian inheritance; 2. The road to discovery; 3. Queenwood; 4. New worlds in Germany; 5. Fundamental discoveries in chemistry; 6. Frankland and the development of valency; 7. Manchester: 'The educational and commercial utility of chemistry'; 8. Return to the metropolis; 9. Advances in organic chemistry; 10. The communication of chemistry; 11. The X-Club and beyond; 12. Family: years of crisis; 13. The analysis of water supply; 14. 'The wildest parts of nature'; 15. Power; 16. Retirement years; 17. The last journey.

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