Zbigniew A. SZYDLO
Highgate School, London, UK
Two English chemists/authors: John Read (1884-1963) and James Riddick Partington (1886-1965)
Abstract: Both James Partington (Professor of Chemistry at Queen Mary College, London, from 1919-1951), and John Read (Professor of Chemistry at the University of St Andrew’s in Scotland, from 1923-1965) were outstanding chemists: Partington – inorganic and physical, Read – organic.
Additionally they were both prolific writers, publishing many papers and books (both text and non-specialist) in the fields of chemistry, and especially the history of chemistry.
These works had an enormous influence on chemical education during the middle half of the twentieth century. The historical approach in their teaching has enabled generations of students and scholars to develop a profound understanding of their subject. This understanding has, in turn, filtered through to the wider community: schoolteachers, scientists, technologists, doctors, farmers, businessmen, politicians, economists.
The object of the present paper will be to set in context the lives of these two remarkable men, and to discuss their personalities and writings.
Although neither Partington nor Read made notable discoveries in chemistry, their understanding and knowledge of chemistry, its history and its role in the world, coupled with their ability to communicate this to a wide audience, is an outstanding example for others to follow. Today, more than ever before, we need more Partingtons and Reads.
Keywords: history, alchemy, knowledge, humanism, chemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry