Thursday, 12 April 2012

On the mortality of authors.....

One of the first text-books that I bought when I arrived at Leeds University in 1963 was Theoretical Structural Metallurgy by A.H. Cottrell. It still sits on my bookshelves along with Dislocations and Plastic Flow in Crystals, by the same author, both untouched since my University days, after which I chose extractive over physical metallurgy.

Both books, however, played a large part in my undergraduate life. Theoretical Structural Metallurgy was published in 1948, when I was 3 years old, so I assumed that the author had passed on many years ago. Not so- in the April 2012 issue of Materials World (pps. 54-55), there is a full obituary to Sir Alan Cottrell, who died in February at the age of 92.

Thirty years after the publication of TSM, the first edition of my book, Mineral Processing Technology appeared, and it is always nice to meet mineral processors who have used one of the editions during their careers.
News of Alan Cottrell’s death reminded me of a memorable evening last year in Kruger National Park, the setting for the Base Metals ’11 bush-braai. Barbara and I shared a table with three lovely ladies, metallurgists from South Africa and Zimbabwe. When we had introduced ourselves, one of them asked if I was B.A. Wills, who wrote “the book”. When I replied that I was, she cried “Oh my God, we must have a photo- my friends back home think you are dead!”

As the American author Mark Twain might have replied “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”.


  1. Posted on Minerals Engineers group by by Robert Seitz, Rio Tinto, USA

    Thanks for keeping your book up to date and in print. With the increasing numbers of new engineers entering the field of mineral processing after uni & with little exposure to the theory and practive of mineral processing, it's a great reference to provide them.

    1. Many thanks for this Bob, although I have to say that I think the present 7th edition may be the last!!


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