Charles Frederick Cross was born in 1855. His father was a schoolmaster turned soap manufacturer. After graduating from King's College, London, he went to Zurich Polytechnic and then, with his future partner, Edward John Bevan, to Owens College, Manchester.
Cross who was interested in cellulose technology and Bevan who had been a chemist at the Scottish papermaking firm of Alexander Cowan & Co. went into partnership in 1885 and set up as analytical and consulting chemists in New Court, Lincoln's Inn in London.
In 1888 they published what was to become a standard work on papermaking. In 1892, together with another partner, Clayton Beadle they took out a patent for Viscose which became the basis for the viscose, rayon and cellophane industries. In 1894 Cross and Bevan took out a patent for the manufacture of cellulose acetate - this was to become the industrial process for its manufacture.
Cross was a recipient of the Perkin Medal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists. He died in 1935.