Elected F.R.S. 1966
David Whiffen is best known for his early work on both infrared (IR) spectroscopy and electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy. But he also made substantial and far-reaching contributions to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and other fields of study. His research encompassed a remarkably wide range of subjects while he delighted in discussing any area of physical chemistry, always in a deeply analytical manner. He combined a sharp scientific mind with an informed religious faith. Although he remained a strong practising Christian throughout his life this was a private matter within the family and many who knew him for long periods were unaware of his commitment.He was born in Esher, Surrey, into a family with strong scientific and religious traditions. His great–grandfather originated in Dorset and moved to London to found a manufacturing company of fine chemicals, Whiffen and Sons. This operated in Southall, then Battersea and next Fulham, before being acquired in 1947 by Fisons Ltd and moving to Loughborough where it was finally completely subsumed into that company. David's grandfather, Thomas J. Whiffen, and his great uncle George followed the founder into the business, and in the next generation three of his sons, Goodman, Stanley and David's father Noël Hardy Whiffen (known as Timothy), were all involved with it. Mr. Noël, as he was known in the company, was born on Christmas day 1894. He became the practical partner on the chemistry side, while Goodman was an engineer and Stanley ran the office.Another brother, Harold, became a fruit farmer, and the eldest, Thomas, roamed the world, including the upper Amazon at the start of the twentieth century; family tradition has it that he originated the World War I poster with the pointing finger that told the onlooker ‘Your Country Needs You’. There were also four sisters, Jessie, Mabel, Olive and Dorothy, none of whom married but who, together with their brothers, were much involved in charitable and good works.