Ralph Raphael

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Ralph Raphael

Prof Ralph Alexander Raphael FRS[1] CBE FRSE (1 January 1921 – 27 April 1998) was a British organic chemist.


He was born in Croydon in London on New Year's Day 1921, the son of Jack Raphael and his wife, Lily Woolfe. He attended Wesley College, Dublin then Tottenham County School in London. He then studied Science at the University of London graduating BSc in 1941 and receiving a doctorate (PhD) in 1943.[2]

From 1943 to 1946 he worked as a Research Chemist on the Penicillin Project for May & Baker. He then went to work as a Researcher at Imperial College, London. From 1946 to 1949 he was Professor of Organic Chemistry at Queen's University, Belfast. In 1949 he moved to Glasgow University.

He was Regius Professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow from 1957–1972, and Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, Professor of Organic Chemistry, and Head of the Department of Chemistry (in reality of Theoretical, Organic and Inorganic Chemistry since Physical Chemistry was a separate department until the early 1980s) at Cambridge University, 1972–88, then Honorary Fellow and Professor Emeritus.

In 1958 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers were John Monteath Robertson, James Norman Davidson, Robert Campbell Garry, and Guido Pontecorvo. In 1962 he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.[3] He was the Davy Medalist for the latter in 1981.[4]

He died in Cambridge on 27 April 1998.


  • Chemistry of Carbon Compounds (1953)
  • Acetylenic Compounds in Organic Synthesis (1955)


In 1944 he married Prudence Maguerire Anne Gaffikin. They had one son and one daughter.


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Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Derek Barton
Regius Professor of Chemistry, Glasgow
1957 - 1972
Succeeded by
Gordon Kirby
Preceded by
Lord Todd
Professor of Organic Chemistry, Cambridge
1972 - 1988
Succeeded by
Alan Battersby