Wright, Norman (scientist)

Reference: D MS1252Date: 1936-1953Extent: c.50 files

Sir Norman Charles Wright, (1900–1970), agricultural and nutritional scientist, was born in Reading, the second son of the Reverend Francis Henry Wright, registrar of the University of Reading, and his second wife, Agnes Mary Dunkley. He obtained his degree in chemistry and physiology from Oxford, and as a Ministry of Agriculture research scholar at Cambridge, he obtained a PhD in 1925. At both universities he won a college oar, which could be seen on the walls of his homes. From 1924 to 1926 he was a research assistant at the National Institute for Research in Dairying at Shinfield, Reading.

On his return to Britain from the USA, in 1928 Wright was appointed physiologist to the newly established Hannah Dairy Research Institute, Ayr, and two years later, became its first director. In 1936–7 Wright advised the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research in India on the development of the Indian beef and dairy industries. In 1944–5 he was a member of the Anglo-American Scientific Mission to the Middle East Supply Centre and in 1945, special adviser to the government of Ceylon. In 1946 he was the British member of the first United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) mission to Greece. In 1947 Wright succeeded Sir Jack Drummond as chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Food; later he became chief scientific adviser (food) of the merged Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, a post which he held until he was invited to become deputy director-general of the FAO, based in Rome, in 1959.

Throughout his working life he served on various committee’s including the Food Standards Committee, the National Food Survey Committee, the Agricultural Research Council and the Colonial Research Council. In those functions he developed an extensive knowledge of agricultural and food sciences, nutrition, and social and economic sciences.

Wright stayed with the FAO at their headquarters in Rome until 1963 when he returned to London and became secretary of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He was the first honorary president of the British Dietetic Association and addressed the association on food and the future. He became a member of the UN advisory committee on the application of science and technology to development and of the council of the British Nutrition Foundation and of the Nestlé Foundation, holding all three appointments until his death. Wright was knighted in 1963 and received the honorary degree of LLD from the University of Leeds in 1967.

His chief recreations were travel and photography. Many of his photographs were added to the pictorial archives of the Royal Borough of Kensington.

His collection mainly consists of correspondence, notebooks, reports and other papers and photographs relating to his visit as a member of the Anglo-American Scientific Mission to the Middle East from 1944 to 1947.

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