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But Rosalind Franklin is the woman at the centre of this story, which has now been told several times. All the protagonists have had their say, one way or another, except Franklin herself, who died of cancer at the age of 37, with her scientific work scarcely acknowledged. Many attempts have been made to explain what went wrong. Unlike the helix itself, the institutional muddledom, misunderstandings and personal antipathies that attended the unveiling of this most elegant and beautiful molecule almost defy unravelling.

All three of the protagonists who were eventually awarded the Nobel prize Maurice Wilkins, Franklin's colleague, was the Third Man of DNA were told at some time by their superiors to cease working on the subject, as was Franklin only one week before the structure was published. The two teams concerned, at King's College, London, and the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, were both operating under the aegis of the Medical Research Council MRC ; DNA being a subject at the junction of biology, physics and chemistry, a grand collaboration would have been in order.

Instead there was secrecy, suspicion, duplication and duplicity. A deal allowed the three papers that launched the DNA era to be published simultaneously in the journal Nature on 25 April , but the way in which the papers referred to and acknowledged each other obscured the course of the discovery. The key paper was Watson and Crick's and this failed to report that one of Franklin's X-ray pictures — which they had seen without her permission or knowledge — was the clinching evidence for their structure. Further corroboration came from a report she had written for the MRC that Crick had seen, again in an irregular fashion.

Franklin accepted Watson and Crick's triumph with good grace and she became close friends with Crick, whom she greatly admired. She also had good scientific relations with Watson in the five years remaining to her after the DNA breakthrough. Despite this, Watson and Crick never told her the truth about their appropriation of her work and Watson went on to write an exceptionally patronising and derogatory account of her in his famous memoir The Double Helix , which caused great distress to Franklin's family.

Many other people were appalled by the book, for various reasons, including Crick, who angrily urged Watson not to publish.

Remembering my sister Rosalind Franklin.

Some have attributed Watson's compulsion to create an unsympathetic portrait of Franklin to his sense of guilt at his shoddy treatment of her work. Franklin was more than the legendary Dark Lady of DNA: in her short life she conducted three major pieces of research. Her first work was on the apparently unpromising subject of coal, but this led to major insights into the structure of graphite and can be seen as a forerunner of the great industry that now stretches from carbon fibre, through buckminsterfullerene and carbon nanotubes to the poster child of nanotechnology today: graphene.

Jenifer Glynn, Franklin's younger sister, now offers an insider portrait. Be the first to write a review. About this product Product Information Rosalind Franklin is famous in the history of science for her contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA, the start of the greatest biological revolution of the twentieth century.


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Much has been written about the importance of her part, and about how her work was affected by her position as a woman scientist. Above all she was a distinguished scientist, t only in her work on DNA, but also in her earlier work on coals and carbons and in her later work on viruses.

In this family memoir her sister, the writer and historian Jenifer Glynn, paints a full picture of Rosalind's life. Looking at Rosalind's background; her early education, her time as a science student at Cambridge, and her relations with her family, to her life as an adult and her time in Paris and at King's, Glynn shows how much her sister achieved and how she was influenced by the social and intellectual climate of the period she worked in.

Additional Product Features Author s. Jenifer Glynn read History at Cambridge and is the author of several books, including Prince of Publishers , about the Victorian publisher George Smith, and The Pioneering Garretts: breaking the barriers for women Show more Show less. New New. No ratings or reviews yet.

Best-selling in Non-Fiction Books See all. Then there was Alec Stokes and his mathematical analysis of the X-ray picture that proclaimed the structure to be a helix. But Rosalind Franklin is the woman at the centre of this story, which has now been told several times.

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All the protagonists have had their say, one way or another, except Franklin herself, who died of cancer at the age of 37, with her scientific work scarcely acknowledged. Many attempts have been made to explain what went wrong.

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Unlike the helix itself, the institutional muddledom, misunderstandings and personal antipathies that attended the unveiling of this most elegant and beautiful molecule almost defy unravelling. All three of the protagonists who were eventually awarded the Nobel prize Maurice Wilkins, Franklin's colleague, was the Third Man of DNA were told at some time by their superiors to cease working on the subject, as was Franklin only one week before the structure was published.

Remembering my sister Rosalind Franklin.

The two teams concerned, at King's College, London, and the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, were both operating under the aegis of the Medical Research Council MRC ; DNA being a subject at the junction of biology, physics and chemistry, a grand collaboration would have been in order.

Instead there was secrecy, suspicion, duplication and duplicity. A deal allowed the three papers that launched the DNA era to be published simultaneously in the journal Nature on 25 April , but the way in which the papers referred to and acknowledged each other obscured the course of the discovery. The key paper was Watson and Crick's and this failed to report that one of Franklin's X-ray pictures — which they had seen without her permission or knowledge — was the clinching evidence for their structure.

My sister Rosalind Franklin

Further corroboration came from a report she had written for the MRC that Crick had seen, again in an irregular fashion. Franklin accepted Watson and Crick's triumph with good grace and she became close friends with Crick, whom she greatly admired. She also had good scientific relations with Watson in the five years remaining to her after the DNA breakthrough.

Despite this, Watson and Crick never told her the truth about their appropriation of her work and Watson went on to write an exceptionally patronising and derogatory account of her in his famous memoir The Double Helix , which caused great distress to Franklin's family. Many other people were appalled by the book, for various reasons, including Crick, who angrily urged Watson not to publish.