Sir Harry Melville was a physical chemist with an international reputation for his studies of gas-phase and heterogeneous reactions, polymerizations and polymer properties; much of this work was characterized by the development of analytical techniques that exploited a very wide range of physical properties. His career changed direction at the age of 48 from immediate personal involvement in the direction of research to the development of national research strategies, followed later by academic administration as a university Principal. His interests in chemical research remained active throughout his long life.
For J.C.B., acquaintance with Melville began during a study of phosphorus as an incendiary agent and reading some of his published papers; there was later (in 1948) appointment to the staff at the University of Birmingham and membership of the High Polymer Research Group. B.G.G. heard him lecture at a scientific meeting in 1945, met him as external PhD examiner in 1949 and joined his department at Birmingham in 1955.