Crookes, William

BORN 17 Jun 1832, London - DIED 4 Apr 1919, London
GRAVE LOCATION London: Brompton Cemetery, Old Brompton Road, West Brompton (4W 13,,3 x 30,,6 )

William Crookes entered the Royal College of Chemistry in Hanover Square, London, when he was fifteen. He worked there as an assistant from 1850 to 1854 and soon started his own research. In 1856 he married Ellen, daughter of William Humphrey, with whom he had four children.

In 1859 he founded the Chemical News, which he edited for a long time. In 1861 he announced the discovery of the element thallium and in 1863 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1873 he determined the atomic weight of thallium by a very precise analysis. In 1875 he invented the radiometer that was named after him.

After 1880 he lived at 7 Kensington Park Gardens, where he had his own laboratory. His research on "radiant matter" was fundamental, but his theoretical views in this field turned out to be wrong. In 1897 he was knighted. In 1900 he managed to seperate uranium from uranium-X.

He pulished many papers on spectroscopy and in 1910 he received the order of merit. He was several times president of the Chemical Society and from 1913 to 1915 of the Royal Society.

Crookes was also interesed in spiritualism. He investigated the famous medium Daniel Dunglas Home. Crookes colleagues expected him to expose the phenomena he witnessed, but they were shocked when he concluded that what Home did was real.

His experiments with medium Florence Cook became famous. During three years she raised the spirit Katie King and Crookes took photographs. He concluded wrongfully that Cook's phenomena were real and was met with hostility when he presented his conclusions to the scientifical world. In 1874 he published "Researches In The Phenomena Of Spiritualism" (1874). In 1898 he stated that he still believed in what he had written about spiritualism. However, it was suggested in later years that there had been an affair between Crookes and Cook and that he hadn't believed in her ghosts at all.

Related persons
• corresponded with Home, Daniel Dunglas


The grave of Sir William Crookes at Brompton Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (27 May 2004)


• Hall, Trevor H., Sherlock Holmes And his Creator, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1977
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Crosnier, Irma

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 25 Dec 2021