Rosalind Franklin was born on July 25, 1920, in Chepstow Villas in Notting Hill, London to Ellis and Muriel Franklin. The Franklins were a prominent Anglo-Jewish family in Notting Hill. They had five kids, Rosalind Franklin being the second oldest of them.
She was fascinated by science at a young age. Her brother Colin describes how she loved printing photographs with her mother: "Developing and printing photographs at home, with my mother, was a discovery which thrilled her in childhood, swilling the sensitised paper in a tray of water... watching the image appear, removing it at the right moment of development. I remember her exclamation which pleased my mother, 'It makes me feel all squidgy inside.'"
She began attending St. Paul's Girls' School at age 11 in 1931. She was already showing signs of her interest in science at that age. Her sister described that "early traces of a careful and excited scientist had already appeared [in Franklin].... Indeed, many traits of her character were already clear -- her intelligence, her skill with her hands, her perfectionism, her logical mind, her outspoken honesty." Her mother also said: "All her life, Rosalind knew exactly where she was going, and at sixteen, she took science for her subject."
Franklin did very well in school. As her sister says, "Rosalind's school certificate, in spite of the usual exam nerves, brought her six distinctions, an easy overkill for a matric. For she was able at all subjects, and particularly interested in history, though she never doubted that specialization meant science. And it was to be physical sciences and maths, not biology or botany which were mainly for those wanting to be doctors."
She decided to go to Newnham College at Cambridge University. Newnham was one of the two women's colleges at Cambridge University, the other being Girton. She chose Cambridge because, as her sister puts it: "Cambridge, it was assumed, was the best place for science." And in 1938, a year early, she headed off to Cambridge.
Loren Sinclair is a high school student interested in chemistry, art, computer science, theater, and everything else! They are writing this blog to tell Rosalind Franklin's often untold tale, from her life story to the science behind her work.