Birthday: March 19, 1883
Died At Age: 67
Sun Sign: Pisces
Born in: Chorley, Lancashire, England
Famous as: Chemist
father: Thomas Haworth
Died on: March 19, 1950
place of death: Barnt Green
education: University of Manchester, University of Göttingen
awards: Davy Medal (1934)
Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1937) Royal Medal (1942)
Sir Norman Haworth was a British Chemist who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1937 for his research on Carbohydrates and Vitamin C along with the Swiss Chemist Paul Karrer for his work on other Vitamins. His major work was in Sugars and he devised the correct structure for many of them including maltose, lactose, cellulose, starch and glycogen. His accomplishments not only contributed to the knowledge of Organic Chemistry, but also facilitated low-cost production of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). His later researches were devoted greatly towards the further allocation of physical, chemical and biological problems related to bacterial polysaccharides. Sir Haworth is very well-known among Organic Chemists due to his development of the ‘Haworth Projection’ which is a 2-dimensional representation of 3-dimensional sugar structures. This method is still widely used in Bio-Chemistry. His book ‘The Constitution of Sugars (1929)’ is a standard text book in the domain.
Childhood & Early Life
Sir Walter Norman Haworth was born at Chorley, a small town in Lancashire, UK on March 19, 1883. His father, Thomas Haworth, was a linoleum manufacturer, whom Walter joined to work at the age of 14.
He developed immense interest in dyes and applied to study Chemistry, passed the entrance examination for the University of Manchester and joined its Chemistry Department as a student in 1903.
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He graduated from William Henry Perkin Jr. with First Class Honors in 1906 and after 3 years of research, was awarded Research Fellowship’ from the ‘Royal Commission of the Exhibition of 1851’ and went on a scholarship to Wallach’s laboratory at Gottingen, Germany for his Ph.D.
In 1910, he completed his Doctorate and returned to Manchester to receive his D.Sc degree in 1911. He achieved all these major qualifications in the shortest duration.
In 1911, Haworth took up his first assignment as a senior demonstrator at the Imperial College, London.
In 1912, he moved to the St. Andrews University, Scotland as a Lecturer of Chemistry where he developed interest in Carbohydrate Chemistry.
He began his work on Simple Sugars in 1915 and developed a new method for the preparation of Methyl Ethers of Sugars using Methyl Sulfate and Alkali, which is known as ‘Haworth’s Methylation’.
Haworth organized the laboratory of St. Andrews University to produce drugs and chemicals for the British Government during the World War I.
In 1920, he was appointed as Professor of the Chemistry Department at the Armstrong College of Durham University and became the Director and Head of the same the next year.
In 1925, he was appointed as Professor and Director of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham, and he remained in the position until his retirement in 1948.
Awards & Achievements
In 1933, Haworth and the assistant director of research, Sir Edmund Hirst and a team of post doctoral students, deduced the correct structure and optical isometric nature of Vitamin C. He suggested the name Ascorbic acid which is the universal name for Vitamin C. He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1937 for his ‘Investigations on Carbohydrates and Vitamin C’. He shared the Prize with Paul Karrer.
Norman Haworth was knighted in 1947.
Haworth remained President of the ‘Chemical Society’ during 1944 -1946 and Fellow (1928) and Vice President (1947-1948) of the Royal Society.
He received honorary Science degrees from the Universities of Belfast, Zurich and Oslo and honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Manchester.
Sir Haworth wrote numerous scientific papers and contributed to Advances in Carbohydrate Chemistry. His book ‘The Constitution of Sugars’ was published in 1929 and remains a standard textbook.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1922, he married Violet Chilton Dobbie, the second daughter of Sir James Johnston Dobbie. They had two sons.
He died of a sudden heart attack on his 67th birthday on March 19, 1950. The University of Birmingham named the Department of Chemistry as ‘Haworth Building’ in his memory. In 1977, the Royal Mail issued a postage stamp (along with 4 others) featuring Haworth’s achievement in synthesizing Vitamin C and his Nobel Prize.