Friedrich August Kekule : biography
August Kekule (full name Friedrich August Kekule von Stradonitz) was born in Darmstadt in 1829 in a family of an official. He was very gifted child if not even talented, he could speak four foreign languages, excellently wrote, was keen on architecture. Kekule’s father died when August was finishing school. He had to get a profitable profession so he decided to enter the University of Giessen to study architecture.
In 1848 Kekule began to attend famous chemist Liebig’s lectures and got interested in chemistry so he gave up architecture. In 1852 а doctorate of chemistry was conferred on him for his work about sulfuric acid. After finishing the university Kekule moved to Paris where he continued his chemical research with Wurtz, Cerhardt and Dumas. He also visited Adolf von Plant in Switzerland and John Stanhouse in London. Kekule went into the question of valency and expounded his ideas in an article where he summarized and extended Charles Cerhardt’s theory of chemical types.
In 1856 August returned to Germany and didn’t find any lattice vacancy in universities, so he made his own chemical laboratory in Heidelberg. He rented premises in a three-storey house, set aside one room for lecture hall and the other for laboratory. Soon he collected large quantity of students and listeners, and scientist’s income increased. His spare time Kekule devoted to research. He worked on the structure of fulminic acid salt, expanded the theory of chemical types by adding methane gas. The results of research were expounded in the article under the name “About the constitution of fulminic mercury”.
In the next article “About the theory of polyatomic radicals” the scientist substantiated his theory of valency, in the other article he wrote about tetravalence of carbon in organic compounds.
In 1958 Kekule filled a position of chemistry teacher in The Gent University in Holland where he met his future wife Stefania Drori. In 1862 they got married but soon she died after childbirth. The scientist found consolation in work: he started to investigate the structure of benzene and discovered that it had a circular form. One of version claims that he made this discovery while sleeping.
The article “About the structure of aromatic compounds” was published in 1865. In 1867 Kekule became the head of chemical institute of the Bonn University. He was very famous chemist and became an academician of many world academies.
In 1886 the scientist who had the chronic bronchitis died during the flu epidemic.