Oral history of British science

Perutz, Max (Part 1 of 19). National Life Stories Collection: General

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  • 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 1: Max Perutz [MP] born in Vienna in 1914, mother was from Vienna, father from Prague. Grandfathers were textile manufacturers, used machines from England. Father bought partnership in cotton printing firm in Ceská Lípa. Mother's parents came from Belohrad but father moved to Vienna in 1904 and married there. M.P. was born in Vienna. His mother bought property in the country - Reichenau - which proved a very good investment, they spent all their summer holidays there - started his love of mountains.. His grandmothers died when he was very young. M.P. has one much older brother, and older sister to whom he was always very close and numerous cousins in Prague. He has no memories of early childhood, does not remember his first school. At age of 9 he went to a preparatory school - Theresianum - got humanist education. M.P. got pneumonia as a child, remained delicate - at age of 9 got serious illness and was sent to Semmering with his nanny. Was there for a long time - all through winter - until cured. After the 2nd world war when everybody was tested for T.B. for antibodies, his X-ray showed his scar, he in fact has had T.B. Main memories of stay on Semmering is sledging. More about hs nanny who was catholic. He does not remember music in his house, no friends in his early years except a cobbler's son at the countrynplace who was killed in 2nd W.W. Religion ; M.P. was baptised to catholicism to save him from antisemitism, in school the official religion was catholic and he became an devout catholic - also influenced by nanny. When he failed his math test it was discovered that he was short sighted and could not see blakboard. He disliked school, found it boring but had a good teacher in Latin. Had English lessons at home. Father was an anglofile - more about his English teacher, interest in english literature. At 18 he passed an interpreter examination. Friends in school: he had a close friend at 15 or 16, they shared interest in history and politics. A Swiss boy who was a keen skier also became a friend.

  • 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

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