Oral history of British science

Perutz, Max (Part 4 of 19). National Life Stories Collection: General

  • Add a note
    Log in to add a note at the bottom of this page.
  • All notes
  • My notes
  • Hide notes
Please click to leave a note

The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »

Tags (top 25):
(No tags found for this item)
  • Type


  • Duration


  • Shelf mark


  • Subjects

    Molecular Biology

  • Recording date

    2001-06-30, 2001-08-18, 2001-09-15, 2001-10-06, 2001-10-27, 2001-11-29, 2001-12-08

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Cambridge, UK

  • Interviewees

    Perutz, Max, 1914-2001 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Katherine, (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 4: MP explains how with the help of one of his teachers at Vienna University he managed to be accepted as graduate student in Cambridge - 1935. His father sent 500.00 to his agent in Vienna which was support him for 2 years. The agent went bankrupt but fortunately preserved MP's money. One of M.P's teachers found him a place with Prof. of crystallography - Prof. Bernal. Though MP knew nothing about christallography the knowledge turned out to be most useful to him in later work. MP made various efforts from Vienna to join a College but had only refusals, so he decided to leave it until he got to Cambridge. Some memories of his journey to England. He went straight to Cambridge and found lodgings at 35 Ulston Road(??). He now describes his strange welcome at the laboratory, with Bernal away and only 3 postgraduates there to greet him. He was also surprised by the shabby clothes worn by his fellow students. When Bernal arrived he made him work with some chips of crystals from a slag heap. He had great difficulties with some primitive equipment, he was given an old cathode-ray tube - he explains in detail the difficulties in using this tube and how he coped with it. There were no safety precautions available in those days. A young lecturer in christallography asked MP to join his College which was Peterhouse. He describes procedure of his acceptance at the College and mentions his luck at having passed the examinatins in Vienna. He got rooms in lodgings. MP liked Cambridge, everyone was so helpful and friendly and he soon felt that he would like to stay there for good. At College he had to eat in Hall but the only free table was with Royal Engineers - he made friends with them and one of them came to him with a problem which provided him with his first piece of interesting research. He now describes the subject of the researcxh - a strange formation of round modules which were dug out from some coastline cliffs in Cornwal. He describes how he dealt with the problem, the strange structure of the modules and suspicion of radioactivity.

  • Description

    Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist and author Max Perutz is interviewed about his life and work. Mentor to James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, Perutz died before this interview could be completed.

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item