William de Wiveleslie Abney
William de Wiveleslie Abney
|Born||24 July 1843|
Derby, England, UK
|Died||3 December 1920 (aged 77)|
|Awards||Rumford Medal (1882)|
Life and career
Abney was born in Derby, England, the son of Edward Abney (1811–1892), vicar of St Alkmund's Church, 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. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1876.
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. In 1900 he was Director of the Science and Art Department. He sold his father's 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.
Abney invented the "Abney level", a combined clinometer and spirit level, used by surveyors to measure slopes and angles. He was responsible for the "Abney mounting" of a concave grating spectrograph in which the photographic plate was fixed and the entry slit moved to accommodate different regions of the spectrum.
- 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 honours
- 1876 Fellow of the Royal Society
- 1878 Received first Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of Great Britain ever
- 1885 Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
- 1892 to 1894, 1896 and 1903 to 1905 President of the Photographic Society of Great Britain aka Royal Photographic Society
- 1893 to 1895 President of the Royal Astronomical Society
- 1895 to 1897 President of the Physical Society of London
- CB : Companion of the Order of the Bath
- KCB: Knight Commander (civil division) of the Order of the Bath (KCB) - announced in the 1900 New Year Honours honours list on 1 January 1900, gazetted on 16 January 1900, and invested by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 1 March 1900.
- Doctor of Science (D.Sc. Honoris causa) from the University of Dublin - June 1902.
- 1909 to 1920 Vice-President of Girls' Public Day School Trust
- "[...] 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".
- 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
- "Abney, William de Wiveleslie". Who's Who: 5. 1920.
- 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 […]"
- "New Year Honours". The Times (36027). London. 1 January 1900. p. 9.
- "No. 27154". The London Gazette. 16 January 1900. p. 285.
- "Court Circular". The Times (36079). London. 2 March 1900. p. 6.
- "University intelligence". The Times (36783). London. 2 June 1902. p. 9.
- "Abney, William de Wiveleslie." Britannica Student Encyclopedia. 2004. Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Dieke, Sally (1970). "Abney, William de Wiveleslie". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9.
- Klaus Hentschel: Mapping the Spectrum. Techniques of Visual Representation in Research and Teaching, Oxford: OUP 2002.online preview; search for Abney
- Elliot, Paul (c. 2012). "The Firs, 320 Burton Road, Derby: A nineteenth-century house and estate". Response: The University of Derby's Online Journal. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014. Article about the Abney family home, with information about the family
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