Rosy Revised

Robert Olby

  • Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
    HarperCollins, 380 pp, £20.00, June 2002, ISBN 0 00 257149 8

The molecular revolution in biology began 50 years ago with the discovery of the structure of DNA, and has had such an impact that the reading public’s interest now extends even to the lives of molecular biologists. Indeed, molecular biologists have stolen the limelight from physicists and astronomers. Best known among them are the Nobel laureates James Watson and Francis Crick; less well known is Rosalind Franklin, who died in 1958 aged 37. Today many believe that, had she lived, she, too, would have won a Nobel Prize for her pivotal contribution to the work on DNA and subsequently on the structure of the tobacco mosaic virus. In 2000, as if to mark a new beginning, King’s College London dedicated a new building in the Strand to Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, the third recipient of the Nobel Prize, who carried out their DNA research in the College’s biophysics unit. Brenda Maddox calls this ‘a genuflection bordering on political correctness’.

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