John Emsley

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Dr John Emsley (born 1938) is a UK popular science writer, broadcaster and academic specialising in chemistry. He researched and lectured at King's College London for 25 years, authoring or co-authoring about 100 papers, and then became Science Writer in Residence at Imperial College London in 1990. From 1997 to 2002 he was Science Writer in Residence at the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge University, England, during which time he started and wrote the newsletter Chem@Cam. Several of his books have been translated into German.[1]

In 1994 he co-founded the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) with Roger Bate, Lorraine Mooney and Professor Frits Böttcher and financed by the US tobacco industry. The ESEF was a single-focus offshoot of London's ultra-Libertarian think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs and its cigarette industry lobby-group FOREST which were both founded and run by Ralph Harris (later Lord Harris of High Cross), an advisor to Margaret Thatcher. The ESEF was seen as a UK version of America's The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) run by junk-science promoter, Steve Milloy. ESEF asked RJ Reynolds for a grant of £50,000 in 1996 to fund a book on risk and passive smoking.

Newspaper column[edit]

For six years Emsley wrote a column on chemistry for the Independent called "Molecule of the Month".


  • Islington Green: A Book of Revelation 2012
  • Nature's Building Blocks: an A-Z Guide to the Elements 2001, 2nd edition 2011.
  • A Healthy, Wealthy, Sustainable World, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010
  • Molecules of Murder, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2008
  • Better Looking, Better Living, Better Loving Wiley-VCH 2007
  • The Elements of Murder, Oxford University Press, 2005
  • Vanity, Vitality, and Virility, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Shocking History of Phosphorus, 2000. US Edition The 13th Element: The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire, and Phosphorus, 2006
  • Was it something you ate?, co-author P.Fell, Oxford University Press, 1999
  • Molecules at an Exhibition, Oxford University Press, 1998
  • The Elements, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 1998
  • The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide: Separating Facts from Fiction about Everyday Products, W.H. Freeman, 1994. (Winner of the Rhone Poulenc Science Book Prize 1995)
  • John Emsley; James Feeney; Leslie Howard Sutcliffe (1965). High Resolution Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. Pergamon. ISBN 9781483184081. 

External links[edit]


  1. ^ see the list of his German books available in the German National Library at