Letter: Recognition that came too late

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MELVYN Bragg's article about Rosalind Franklin, "The dark lady of DNA" (15 February), implies that Franklin did not share the Nobel Prize in 1962 because she was a woman. In fact, she died in 1958 and the prize is not awarded posthumously. Had she lived, there would still have been a problem, as four scientists were involved and the prize can be split only three ways.

Although Mr Bragg fails to mention it, Anne Sayre's Rosalind Franklin & DNA, elucidating the importance of her role, appeared in New York in 1975. Indeed, five years earlier, the feminist American artist June Wayne created a series of prints to honour Franklin, one of which was entitled Rosy's Helix. Although too little and too late, James Watson reviewed his piggishly sexist account of the discovery in 1969, when an edition of The Double Helix was produced for the Readers' Union. In an epilogue to that edition he wrote that he had come "to appreciate greatly [Franklin's] personal honesty and generosity, realising years too late the struggles that the intelligent woman faces to be accepted by a scientific world which often regards women as mere diversions from serious thinking".

Pat Gilmour

London E9

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