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.
For organic chemistry we had Bill Davies, who was an amazing character. He had, coincidentally, been in the same year at Manchester University as my mother and father, reading chemistry so they knew him of course. He'd then gone to Oxford, blown off a couple of fingers in an experiment in, I suppose, Robert Robinson's laboratory and he also – because of a childhood ailment – had a limp. So he was a character, but ebullient, talked with a very rough Lancashire accent but was totally encyclopaedic. He never had a note; he came in, he filled the board over and over again, would wipe it off with his hand, imperfectly, write something else over it, do a ring closure reaction without... so it was impossible to take notes from him, but he was inspiring because he was so encyclopaedic in his knowledge and we, I think, enjoyed it very much.
Title: The Oxford lecturer who blew his fingers off
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.
University of Manchester, Oxford University, University of Melbourne, William Davies, Robert Robinson