Papers and correspondence of William Charles Evans, 1911-1988

Scope and Content

The papers cover all periods of Evans's scientific career except the two years at St Mary's, London. There are undergraduate notebooks, postgraduate notes, and material relating to the wartime work for the Blood Transfusion Service including posters appealing for blood donors. There are extensive sequences of notes on Evans's later research at Aberystwyth and Bangor on pasture plants, bracken toxicity and the breakdown of aromatic compounds. Also represented is teaching material from Leeds and Bangor and papers and correspondence from a 1969 visit to the University of Khartoum, principally to advise on the Department of Biochemistry and Soil Science there. An exceptional feature is an assemblage of lectures and teaching material passed to Evans about 1950 by a colleague at Aberystwyth, A.N. Worden. This provides documentation of the teaching of veterinary science and biochemistry in the Universities of London and Cambridge in the 1930s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Evans was born in Penrhos, near Caernarvon. He was the son of a stonemason in the Dinorwig Slate Quarries, and did not begin to learn English until about ten years old. He won a scholarship to the University College of North Wales, Bangor, in 1929 where he graduated with first class honours in chemistry in 1932. Two further years at Bangor for his Teacher's Training Diploma and an M.Sc. in organic chemistry were followed by Ph.D. research in physiological chemistry at Manchester University, successfully completed in 1937. Evans's first appointment was teaching biochemistry in the Physiology Department at Leeds University and following the outbreak of war he became Director of Plasma Production and Serology in the university-based Regional Blood Transfusion Laboratory until 1944, when he moved to St Mary's Hospital, London where he worked on the production of diphtheria toxin. In 1946 Evans returned to Wales as Special Lecturer in Biochemistry at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and in 1951 he was appointed to the Chair of Agricultural Chemistry at Bangor, a position he held until retirement in 1979. Evans's most important research was in two main areas: the elucidation of the biochemistry of the aerobic and anaerobic pathways of the catabolism of aromatic compounds in nature, and the isolation of the toxic factors in bracken fern causing the poisoning of farm animals. He was elected FRS in 1979.


By section as follows: Biographical, Leeds University, University of Wales, Research, Publications, lectures and broadcasts, Visits and conferences, Correspondence. Index of correspondents.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all users by appointment

Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue of the papers and correspondence of William Charles Evans (1911-1988) by T.E. Powell and P. Harper, NCUACS catalogue no. 16/1/90, 106 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Separated Material

Evans's Ph.D. thesis and memorabilia relating to Sir Almroth Wright including a boxed set of calibrated glass capillary pipettes made by Wright, are retained in family hands.

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1989 by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists from Dr I. Antice Evans, widow. Deposited in the Department of Manuscripts, Bangor University in 1990.