Sir Walter Norman Haworth ( March 19, White Coppice, Birmingham, 1883 – March 19, 1950) was a British chemist who is best known for his groundbreaking work onAscorbic acid (vitamin C) when he worked at the University of Birmingham.
Haworth was the fourth child and second son of Thomas and Hannah Haworth. His father, whose family owned a distinguished tradition in business, was the manager of alinoleum factory and expected that his son would succeed him. After a while in the factory of his father in 1903, he went against the wishes of his parents, studying chemistry in Manchester. After this, he studied in Göttingen.
In 1912 Haworth became a lecturer at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and became interested in Carbohydrate Chemistry, which was examined in St Andrews by Thomas Purdie (1843-1916) and James Irvine (1877-1952). From 1920 to 1925 he was Professor of organic chemistry at the University of Durham and from 1925 to 1948 Professor-Director of the chemical laboratory of the University of Birmingham.
Haworth began his work with simple sugars in 1915 and developed a new method to make methyl ethers of sugars using methyl sulfates and alkali. After this, he began research on the structural properties of disacharides.
In 1934, when he worked together with Edmund Hirst , he synthesized vitamin C and its structure elucidated on. Haworth wrote numerous articles and contributed toAdvances in Carbohydrate Chemistry. His book The Constitution or Sugers was issued in 1929. The Haworth projection, a simple way to display chemical structures, is named after him.
Haworth was president of the Chemical Society (1944-1946) and Fellow (1928) and Vice President (1947-1948) of the Royal Society of London. He received honorary degrees from universities such as those of Belfast, Zurich and Oslo, an honorary doctorate from Manchester and memberships rights of nine foreign scientific academies.In 1934 he was awarded the Davy medal. He was knighted in 1948, and died in 1950 at the age of 67.