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It’s Her Story: Rosalind Franklin

Authored by Karen de Seve
Illustrated by Samantha F. Chow
Published by Sunbird Books

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Biography, told in graphic novel form, of Rosalind Franklin, a British chemist during the 1940s and 1050s. Rosalind Franklin was born in 1920 and this short biography follows the main events in her life until her death at the very early age of 37 in 1958. Rosalind was interested in science right from school age. She dedicated her life to scientific research, studying chemistry at Cambridge University and then working for the war effort in WW2. After the war Rosalind was working in France, becoming an expert in X-ray crystallography and enjoying the freedom of leading her own projects. Moving back to England she began to be interested in taking pictures of DNA, the code of life. Rosalind’s innovations enabled her to create a clear image of DNA. Without her knowledge her breakthrough was effectively stolen by other scientists who took the credit for discovering the structure of DNA. It was only many years later that her fundamental contribution was recognised.

The biography shows how women, Rosalind in particular, were rarely treated equally by male scientists and had to be very assertive if they were to follow scientific research as a career. Even then their contributions were undervalued.

This is a brief biography, covering the key moments as well as the struggles of Rosalind Franklin’s life, ending with the legacy of her work in the present day. It is an easy, quick, read with clear illustrations utilising muted colours, mainly browns, to indicate that it occurs in the past. The book contains many speech bubbles of conversations and I always wonder how the biographer knows that the people said those exact words!

A good addition to school libraries, particularly useful for broader studies on the contribution of female researchers to science.