Williams, Trevor Illtyd 1921 - 1996

(1921-1996), writer and historian of science

Trevor Illtyd Williams was born at 12 Cotham Road, Clifton, Bristol on the 16th July 1921. He was educated at Clifton College followed by Queen's College, Oxford studying chemistry. Williams was awarded a DPhil in chemistry in 1945 as a result of his research on the isolation of helvolic acid and other antibiotics; He published 'An Introduction to Chromatography in 1946'.

Williams became editor of 'Endeavour' (a broadly based scientific journal) in 1954 until his retirement in 1995. He converted 'Endeavour' from a semi-popular magazine into a respected scientific journal. As an employee of ICI Williams became managing editor of the ICI-sponsored 'A History of Technology', published by Oxford University Press in five volumes between 1954 and 1958. Williams was also made ‘academic relations adviser’ by ICI in 1962 with a large budget for postdoctoral fellowships and research grants.

Williams became an author of several semi-popular works on the history of chemistry and the chemical industry. His most important contribution to the history of science was to edit the Biographical Dictionary of Scientists, which went through four editions between 1968 and 1994. He served as chairman of the Society for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry between 1967 and 1974. For his services to the history of chemistry Williams received the American Chemical Society's Dexter award in 1976. He was appointed to the advisory council of the Science Museum, London in 1972 and remained a keen member until it was replaced by a board of trustees in 1984.

Williams had four sons and one daughter. He died at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, on 12 October 1996, following an operation.