Rosalind Franklin


Oh, this makes me spit (from 5 years ago, so I’m a bit late):

A fourth researcher credited with initial DNA work, Rosalind Franklin, died of cancer in 1958 and was never nominated for a Nobel Prize. She and her male colleagues did not get along despite their professional collaboration, as seen in some rather blunt messages contained within the new material.

“I hope the smoke of witchcraft will soon be getting out of our eyes,” Wilkins wrote to Crick and Watson in 1953, as Franklin prepared to leave Wilkins’ lab for Birbeck College in London.

The rediscovered Crick material, which includes correspondence, photographs, postcards, preprints, reprints, meeting programs, notes and newspaper cuttings, also gives new details on the relationship between Rosalind Franklin and her male colleagues.

Well-known tensions reigned early on. An early misunderstanding poisoned the relationship between Wilkins and Franklin, and Watson’s rather chauvinist attitude toward Franklin at the time included complaints that she failed to wear lipstick or pretty herself up like other women.

Franklin’s male peers also persisted in calling her “Rosy” or “Rosie,” a nickname she disliked immensely.

Still, her work with X-ray crystallography created a certain “Photograph 51,” which allowed Crick and Watson to realize that DNA has a double-helix structure. Without Franklin knowing, Wilkins showed her photograph to Crick and Watson in 1953.

Wilkins later complained to Crick and Watson in a rediscovered letter: “To think that Rosie had all the 3D data for 9 months & wouldn’t fit a helix to it and there was I taking her word for it that the data was anti-helical. Christ.”