19 February 1959
Professor Konrad Bloch
Professor Paul Doty
Professor Frank Westheimer
Dear Professors Bloch, Doty, and Westheimer:
I am pleased to reply to your telegram, asking my opinion of Francis Crick.
I think that Crick is a very clever and intelligent man—the sort of man who should
be a professor.
He has a good knowledge of the field of x-ray crystallography. I don't know how
much he knows about biochemistry.
Some of his work has been brilliant. Much of it has been done with collaborators,
and it might be hard to decide how great the contribution is that Crick made in this
collaborative work. However, I have little doubt that he has provided a good bit
of the brilliance in the collaborative work.
Crick has an interesting personality. I judge that he did not get along very well
with Professor Sir Lawrence Bragg. I think that, on the other hand, he does get
along well with most people.
It is not easy to compare Crick with other people in the same general field. I think
that he knows much more about x-ray crystallography than Alex Rich does, and that
he probably is a more original man. He is not so sound and thorough as Professor
Robert B. Corey, my collaborator, but on the other hand he is more imaginative and,
of course, much younger. He probably has greater originality than David Harker,
although I think that David Harker knows much more about structural chemistry than
Crick does. Harker has done some fine jobs in the field of x-ray crystallography,
such as his determination, with two students, of the structure of decaborane. Harker's
work on the structure of proteins has, however, been disappointing.
I may say that if I were looking for another man to carry on work on the determination
of the structure of crystalline globular proteins (that is, if Professor Corey were
not doing this work in our laboratory) I probably would have a strong inclination
to appoint Dr. Murray Vernon King, who is one of Harker's collaborators, and who has
been, I think, in large part responsible for the progress that has been made on that
project. King, who received his training with Lipscomb, impresses me as being an
able and original man who gets things done.
Crick probably has broader interests, so far as biochemistry goes, than Kendry, who
is, of course, making good progress in his attack on the structure of myoglobin.
I would expect Crick to be an interesting and effective lecturer.