The Sceptical Chymist | Ernest Eliel

Published in Chemistry

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It is with some sadness that I note the passing of Ernest Eliel – a stereochemistry giant in my eyes – and many others I presume. His book – Stereochemistry of Organic Compounds – (later editions written with Wilen and Mandel) was, along with March and Vogel, one of the essential chemical bibles to be found in the lab during my PhD work. My copy is, even now, sitting on the shelf behind me here in the Nature offices… and it still has the price tag on the back – £29.95 apparently, which is peanuts compared with today’s prices!

I leave you with a quote about Eliel from Fraser Stoddart – whose only book (to date) is on the stereochemistry of carbohydrates – who shared the following sentiment with me in an e-mail late last night:

He was one of my heroes. At his best in the 70s, it was an awesome experience to listen to him in full flight. Above all, he was a very nice person unlike a lot of the insufferable barons who were around at that time.


Stuart Cantrill (Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry)

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