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Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 01 February 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:289
  1. Jo Ann Rosenfeld (, assistant professor of medicine
  1. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

    Brenda Maddox

    Harper Collins, £20, pp 400 ISBN 0 00257149 8

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    Rosalind Franklin, the biophysicist whose work provided the scientific support for Watson and Crick's development of the structure of DNA, has remained a mystery, her opinions and motivations hidden. Was she—as described by her colleague Maurice Wilkins, who shared the Nobel prize with Watson and Crick—the “dark lady,” a bellicose spinster who could not collaborate and resented their work and originality? Was her work ignored because it was insignificant or because she was antisocial? Or was she a brilliant scientist and feminist, a sacrificial victim, her work overlooked and her progress diminished because she was an outsider who didn't fit into the “old boy” network? The truth, of course, lies …

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