ROSCOE, Sir Henry Enfield (1833–1915) chemist & administrator. ALS to William Bragge 1862


ROSCOE, Sir Henry Enfield (1833–1915) chemist & administrator. ALS to William Bragge 1862

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PROPOSAL TO STUDY SPECTRUM OF BESSEMER CONVERTER FLAME

ROSCOE, Sir Henry Enfield (1833–1915), chemist and university administrator. Autograph letter signed to William Bragge Esq, Sheffield, 3 sides of a bifolium, 8vo, February 1st 1862, Owens College, Manchester,  saying he has forwarded “two extracts from the London Review newspaper containing a popular although short account of the Recent Spectrum Discoveries”, adding that a more extensive article can be found in the National (Quarterly) Review for July 1861 entitled “Sun & Sunlight”, and that he will forward him the abstract of a lecture on the same subject which he delivered “March last” at the Royal Institution in London. He adds that he would “much like to examine the spectrum of the Bessemer Iron furnace flame, but at present my hands are so full of work that I am unable to undertake any new investigation. If you will kindly permit me I will at some time come over to Sheffield & try what can be done”. The second leaf has corner marks form old mounting hinges.


Roscoe studied chemistry at University College London and in 1853 continued his chemical education with the distinguished chemist Robert Bunsen in Heidelberg. In 1856 he established a private laboratory in Bedford Place, London, and quickly developed a career as a professional chemist with additional employment as a lecturer. The following year Roscoe obtained the position of professor of chemistry at Owens College of Manchester, vacated by Edward Frankland. Founded in 1851 Owens College had fallen into decline, but Roscoe soon began to provide momentum and leadership in curriculum reform, and demonstrated to the community the potential of Owens to aid the economic life of the region. Under Roscoe's direction, Manchester became a leading chemistry centre in Britain.

Roscoe’s correspondent was the civil engineer and steel manufacturer William Bragge (1823–1884), who in 1858 had joined John Brown and John D. Ellis in a partnership which ran John Brown & Co.'s Atlas works in Sheffield, where he served as managing director alongside Ellis, with responsibilities for foreign trade. (ODNB).

Roscoe in fact quickly followed up the experiment to examine the spectrum of the Bessemer converter flame, publishing the results in 1863. This is an important early letter from the start of Roscoe’s professional and academic career in chemistry.

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