b.1829 d.18 February 1921
MB Lond(1851) PhD Leyden MA Oxon FRCP(1859) FRS
William Odling was born at Southwark, the son of George Odling, a surgeon. He received his medical education at Guy’s Hospital but never practised as a doctor. After graduating as M.B. in 1851 he studied chemistry under Gerhardt in Paris and, at an early age, was appointed director of the chemical laboratory at Guy’s. In 1863 he became lecturer on chemistry at St. Bartholomew’s and in 1868 Fullerian professor at the Royal Institution. Four years later he was appointed Waynflete professor of chemistry at Oxford in succession to Sir Benjamin Brodie and a fellow of Worcester College. He retired from this professorship in 1912. Though Odling’s name was not associated with any particular advance in chemistry, he was largely instrumental, during his earlier days at Oxford, in procuring greater recognition for it as a subject worthy of the University’s attention, and also in obtaining a charter for the Institute of Chemistry. He was a good and stimulating expositor, and his Manual of Chemistry (1869) and Primer of Chemistry (1882), amongst others from his pen, were of considerable value in their time. In his later life, he concerned himself more with such practical problems as the analysis of drinking water and the chemistry of bread-making. Odling was interested in art and a collector of engravings, and stimulated the Ashmolean Museum to take more interest in this subject. He was also the owner of some rare editions of the English poets. He married in 1872 Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Alfred Smee, F.R.S, by whom he had three sons. When he died at Oxford in his ninety-second year, he was senior Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, where he had delivered the Materia Medica Lectures fifty-six years earlier.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1921; B.M.J., 1921; Nature, 3 Mar. 1921; Al.Oxon., iii, 1036]
(Volume IV, page 114)
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