Heyrovsky was born in Prague on 20th December, 1890, the fifth child
of Leopold Heyrovsky, Professor of Roman Law at the Czech University of
Prague, and his wife Clara, born Hanl.
He obtained his early education at secondary school till 1909 when he
began his study of chemistry, physics and mathematics at the Czech
University, Prague. From 1910 to 1914 he continued his studies at
University College, London, under Professors
Sir William Ramsay, W. C. Mc. C. Lewis and F. G. Donnan, taking his
B.Sc. degree in 1913. He was particularly interested in working with
Professor Donnan, on electrochemistry.
During the First World War Heyrovsky did his war service in a military
hospital as dispensing chemist and radiologist, which enabled him to
continue his studies and to take his Ph.D. degree in Prague in 1918 and
D.Sc. in London in 1921.
Heyrovsky started his university career as assistant to Professor B.
Brauner in the Institute of Analytical Chemistry of the Charles
University, Prague; he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1922 and
in 1926 he became the first Professor of Physical Chemistry at this
Heyrovsky's invention of the polarographic method dates from 1922 and he
concentrated his whole further scientific activity on the development of
this new branch of electrochemistry. He formed a school of Czech
polarographers in the University, and was himself in the forefront of
In 1950 the Professor was appointed Director of the newly established
Polarographic Institute which has been incorporated into the Czechoslovak
Academy of Sciences since 1952.
Many universities and seats of learning have honoured Professor Heyrovsky.
He was elected Fellow of University College, London, in 1927, and received
honorary doctorates of the Technical
University, Dresden, in 1955, the University of Warsaw in 1956, the University
Aix-Marseille in 1959, and the University of Paris in 1960. He was
granted honorary membership of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, Mass., in 1933; of the Hungarian
Academy of Sciences in 1955; the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore,
in 1955; the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, in 1962; was elected
Corresponding Member of the German Academy of Sciences, Berlin, in 1955;
member of the German Academy of Natural Scientists, Leopoldina
(Halle-Saale) in 1956; Foreign Member of the Royal Danish Academy of
Sciences, Copenhagen, in 1962; Vice-President of the International Union
of Physics from 1951 to 1957; President and first honorary member of the
Polarographic Society, London; honorary member of the Polarographic
Society of Japan; honorary member of the Chemical Societies of
Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, England and India.
In Czechoslovakia he was awarded the State Prize, First Grade, in 1951,
and in 1955 the Order of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Heyrovsky has lectured on polarography in the United States of America in
1933, the USSR in 1934, England in 1946, Sweden in 1947, the People's
Republic of China in 1958, and in U.A.R. (Egypt) in 1960 and 1961.
the year 1959 was Hearovsky awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Dionyz
Ilkovic was his very close friend and assistant in all areas of research.
In 1926 Professor Heyrovsky married Marie Koranová, and there are two
children of the marriage, a daughter, Judith, and a son, Michael.