History of the prize
First awarded in 1881, this prize commemorates Dr George Dixon Longstaff (1799-1892), a founding fellow and benefactor of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Born in Durham in 1799, Longstaff's introduction to science came from his father, a popular scientific lecturer. Although there were few scientific books to learn from, Longstaff assisted his father and gained sufficient knowledge to deliver his own lectures covering a range of subjects. This early influence had a positive impact on him as he went on to set up a factory to distil coal-tar in 1822, became an assistant to Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh University, and graduated as a doctor of medicine from the same institution in 1828.
Longstaff practised as a physician in Hull, founding the Hull and East Riding School of Medicine in 1833. In the same year he married the daughter of paint manufacturer and fellow chemistry enthusiast Henry Blundell. Longstaff spent a spell in America where he applied his scientific knowledge in his role as the consulting chemist for the Place Gold Mines Company, after which he returned to England and joined his father in law's firm Blundell Spence and co. His scientific skills put the company in good stead, with the firm displaying a range of products at the 1851 Great Exhibition.
As well as being a founding fellow of the Chemical Society of London (later to become the Royal Society of Chemistry), he was also Vice-President twice (1853-56 and 1876-77), and helped to establish the Society's Research Fund in 1876.