'The Double Helix' by James Watson
'The Double Helix' is James Watson's account of events leading up to his and Francis Crick's 1953 discovery of the structure of DNA. In it he describes their work at Cambridge and their use of X-ray photographs of crystalline DNA produced by Rosalind Franklin at King's College, London.
These photographs were essentially a later version of the pioneering first picture taken by Astbury and Bell in the 1930s. They are also remarkably similar to the 1951 picture taken by Astbury's later student, Elwyn Beighton. Yet Astbury gets only one brief mention in Watson's book. In the book, Watson describes his reaction on being shown Franklin's X-ray photograph of DNA, by her collaborator Maurice Wilkins:-
"The instant I saw the picture my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race. The pattern was unbelievably simpler than those obtained previously ('A Form'). Moreover, the black cross of reflections which dominated the picture could only arise from a helical structure".
From Watson, J.D. (1986). The Double Helix. Penguin.
On loan from a private collection