Watson and Crick would become renowned as the discoverers of the Golden Helix. But
what about the other essential players?
As Horace Judson relates in The Eighth Day of Creation, Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling had finished a rough draft of a paper summarizing
their incomplete conclusions about the B structure of DNA on Tuesday, March 17, 1953.
After Wilkins saw a prepublication copy of the Watson and Crick Nature letter, Wilkins wrote to Crick asking that he be permitted to publish his experimental
data in the same issue. Wilkins had also learned that Franklin and Gosling wanted
to publish their data.
So the justly famous April 25, 1953, issue of Nature, which first presents Watson and Crick's structure, also contains Maurice Wilkins'
paper and the Franklin / Gosling paper. The Franklin / Gosling paper was a revision
of the mid-March draft revised once Franklin had seen the Watson / Crick model. Most
importantly it presented publicly, for the first time, the crucial diffraction photo
of structure B -- the same photo that first gave Watson the clue to the double helical
Wilkins would eventually share the Nobel Prize with Watson and Crick. Before the awarding
of the Nobels, Rosalind Franklin died of cancer at age 37. For a variety of reasons,
as outlined in Brenda Maddox's biography Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, Franklin would be the last major researcher to establish her proper place in the
history of the discovery.