Emsley, John 1938–

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Emsley, John 1938–


Born December 19, 1938, in Yorkshire, England; son of Charles (a shopkeeper) and Mary (a shopkeeper) Emsley; married Joan Barbara Mary Feather (a teacher), 1963; children: Julian John, Helen Mary. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Victoria University of Manchester, B.Sc., 1960, Ph.D., 1963.


Home—Ampthill, Bedfordshire, England. E-mail—[email protected].


University of London, London, England, lecturer at King's College, 1967-82, reader, 1982-90, science writer in residence at Imperial College of Science and Technology, 1990-97; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, science writer-in-residence, 1997-2002.


Association of British Science Writers, Royal Society of Chemistry (fellow), Royal Institution of Great Britain (member of council, 1993-96), Society for Chemical Industry (honorary life member), American Chemical Society.


D.Sc., University of London, 1983; Rhone Poulenc Science Book Prize, 1995, for The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide: A Jargon-Free Guide to the Chemicals of Everyday Life; writing award, German Chemical Society, 2003.


The Inorganic Chemistry of the Non-Metals, Methuen (New York, NY), 1971.

(With Dennis Hall) The Chemistry of Phosphorus, Harper (New York, NY), 1976.

The Elements, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989, 3rd edition, 1998.

The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide: A Jargon-Free Guide to the Chemicals of Everyday Life, W.H. Freeman (New York, NY), 1994, published as The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide: Separating Facts from Fiction about Everyday Products, Corgi (London, England), 1994.

Molecules at an Exhibition: Portraits of Intriguing Materials in Everyday Life, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Peter Fell) Was It Something You Ate? Food Intolerance, What Causes It and How to Avoid It, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

The 13th Element: The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire, and Phosphorus, John Wiley and Sons (New York, NY), 2000, published as The Shocking History of Phosphorus: A Biography of the Devil's Element, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.

Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Vanity, Vitality, and Virility: The Science behind the Products You Love to Buy, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Elements of Murder: A History of Poison, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Better Looking, Better Living, Better Loving: How Chemistry Can Help You Achieve Life's Goals, Wiley-VCH (Weinheim, Germany), 2007.

Author of "Molecule of the Month" column for London Independent, beginning 1988. Contributor to New Scientist. Editor, Chem@Cam.


John Emsley told CA: "My professional career as a lecturer in chemistry gradually saw my writing becoming more popular. After a mid-life crisis in 1990, I became a full-time writer. My primary motivation for writing is an inner urge to write! My work is influenced by the need for popular science books based on chemistry."