Rosalind Franklin was the superb X-ray crystallographer who figured out the molecular structure of the DNA double helix. Her accomplishment was almost completely hidden in 1953 when Francis Crick and James Watson announced that they had solved the structure of DNA.
Rosalind Franklin died young, of ovarian cancer, possibly caused by years of exposure to the X-rays she used in her work. But since her death, the women’s movement, and the increasing number of women in science, have brought her story to public attention. Books, such as Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, by Brenda Maddox, and articles about Franklin tell a far different story from the one in James Watson’s The Double Helix.
Now Anna Ziegler has written a play about Rosalind Franklin, called Photograph 51 after Franklin’s famous X-ray diffraction photo that led directly to the discovery of the double helix. I’ll have more to say about Rosalind Franklin in my next post. Meanwhile, here is some film about the new play.