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Letter from Linus Pauling to Konrad Bloch, Paul Doty and Frank Westheimer. February 19, 1959.
Pauling writes to offer his opinion on the potential candidacy of Francis Crick for an open position at Harvard University. Pauling speaks to Crick's scientific achievements, personality and research interests, and compares Crick to several contemporaries in his field of study.


19 February 1959

Professor Konrad Bloch

Professor Paul Doty

Professor Frank Westheimer

Chemistry Department

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

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.

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling:jh

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