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The superb University High School

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[Q] Well, Norman, it's a pleasure to be with you today and I'm looking forward to hearing the story of your life.

That's a long story, Brian, but maybe I'll start by explaining that I was born in Australia and, interestingly, I'm the only Australian member of our family. The reason I was born in Australia was that my mother and father had met as undergraduate students at Manchester and... they had subsequently married after the war – this was before the First World War – and after the war they got married and at a young age, I think of about 29, he was appointed as the first Professor of Metallurgy in Australia. So they went out with my elder sister, who was by then born, and in Melbourne, where they had the chair, was where I was born. So that's how I came to be born in Australia, and I grew up and spent all my early life there. Unfortunately, the marriage of my parents broke up pretty soon afterwards. My brother was born 15 months after me, Eric, and then after that the marriage crumbled, which we obviously needn't go into, but it meant that I was brought up by my mother and her sister who'd come out from England to help her.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: Australia, Manchester University, WWI, Professor of Metallurgy, Melbourne, UK

Duration: 1 minute, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011