William de Wiveleslie Abney
|William de Wiveleslie Abney|
William de Wiveleslie Abney
|Born||24 July 1843
Derby, England, UK
|Died||3 December 1920
Folkestone, England, UK
Life and career 
Abney was born in Derby, England, the son of Edward Abney (1811–1892) vicar of St Alkmund's Derby, and owner of the Firs Estate. He attended Rossall School, the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and joined the Royal Engineers in 1861, with whom he served in India for several years. Thereafter, and to further his knowledge in photography, he became a chemical assistant at the Chatham School of Military Engineering.
Abney was a pioneer of several technical aspects of photography. His father had been an early photographic experimenter and friend of Richard Keene, an early Derby photographer. Keene became a close friend of William and his brother Charles Edward Abney (1850–1914). Both Abney sons subsequently became founder members of the Derby Photographic Society in June 1884. His endeavors in the chemistry of photography produced useful photographic products and also developments in astronomy. He wrote many books on photography that were considered standard texts at the time, although he was doubtful that his improvements would have a great impact on the subject.
Abney investigated the blackening of a negative to incidental light. In 1874, Abney developed a dry photographic emulsion, which replaced "wet" emulsions. He used this emulsion in an Egyptian expedition to photograph the transit of Venus across the sun. In 1880, he introduced hydroquinone. Abney also introduced new and useful types of photographic paper, including in 1882 a formula for gelatin silver chloride paper.
Abney conducted early research into the field of spectroscopy, developing a red-sensitive emulsion which was used for the infrared spectra of organic molecules. He was also a pioneer in photographing the infrared solar spectrum (1887), as well as researching sunlight in the medium of the atmosphere.
He became assistant secretary to the Board of Education in 1899 and advisor to that body in 1903. He sold his fathers estate, most of which went for housing in the St Luke's Parish of Derby, but retained 11 acres until 1913 when they were purchased by the Council to become the site of Rykneld Secondary Modern School and Rykneld recreation ground.
- Chemistry for Engineers, 1870.
- W. de W. Abney, Instruction in Photography, London, published by S. Low, Marston & company, 1900.
- A New Developer, Photographic News, 1880, 24:345.
- W. de W. Abney and E. R. Festing, Intensity of Radiation through Turbid Media, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Volume 40, pages 378–380, 1886. Published by The Royal Society.
- W. de W. Abney and E. R. Festing, Colour Photometry. Part III.Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Volume 50, pages 369–372, 1891–1892. Published by The Royal Society.
Organizations and honors 
- Royal Society (fellow)
- 1876 and
- Received first Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of Great Britain ever
- Photographic Society of Great Britain aka Royal Photographic Society (president)
- 1892 to 1894
- 1903 to 1905
- Royal Astronomical Society (president)
- 1893 to 1895.
- Physical Society of London (president)
- 1895 to 1897
- Girls' Public Day School Trust (vice-President)
- 1909 to 1920
- "[...] whatever little notions of art a person might have in his head would certainly be driven out of it, for the knowledge that he could take an almost unlimited number of pictures would lead him to expose a sheet on every possible occasion, and probably 99 percent of what he obtained would be thoroughly inartistic productions".
See also 
- Craven, Maxwell (1993). Keene's Derby. Breedon Books. pp. 13-14. ISBN 1-873626-60-6.
- Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 5
- Royal Photographic Society. Progress medal. Web-page listing people, who have received this medal since 1878 (): “Instituted in 1878, this medal is awarded in recognition of any invention, research, publication or other contribution which has resulted in an important advance in the scientific or technological development of photography or imaging in the widest sense. This award also carries with it an Honorary Fellowship of The Society. […] 1878 W de W Abney […]”
- "Abney, William de Wiveleslie." Britannica Student Encyclopedia. 2004. Encyclopædia Britannica.
Further reading 
- Dieke, Sally (1970). "Abney, William de Wiveleslie". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 21–22. ISBN 0-684-10114-9.