Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins

Birthday :

December 15, 1916

Died On :

October 5, 2004

Birth Place :

Pongaroa, Tararua, New Zealand

Zodiac Sign :


Maurice Wilkins is a 19-century biophysicist. He got interested in both physics and biology at his tender age. He loved every single detail that dealt with biological and physical procedures. In the process he found himself studying computer modeling and different mathematical analysis. In the end, he produced a series of DNA Fibers. Besides, he also improved the radar displays that were used in WWII to sense the nearby enemy. He took a prominent position during the Manhattan Project where he later opted to concentrate in biophysics research.

Maurice Hugh’s Personality

Frederick Wilkins was widely known as a cheerful man who was destined to do anything for the benefit of others. This is seen when he tried his best to come up with best mass destruction weapons during the WWII. Either way, he possessed an inner sense of fairness and integrity. But there was only one thing that differentiated him with others; being opinionated. But he was loved more, all thanks to his refined and subtle personality.

Maurice Wilkins hated to judge others just as much as he wanted to be the crème of all. He didn't stop at anything, but he was sure to stop at everything. He perfectly knew how to balance his life hence working time for him was treasured. Deep inside Hugh was referred to as a kind-hearted and an ambitious man. Nothing spoke more than his discoveries. Read along.


Childhood and Early Life

On December 15, 1916, Maurice Hugh Wilkins was first seen in the world in Pongaria, Wairarapa, in New Zealand. He was born to a professional doctor, Edgar Henry Wilkins, and Evelin Whitlock. Wilkins went to King Edward IV School that was located in Birmingham at six years of age. After high school, he joined St. John’s College in 1935 where he garnered his first degree in physics in the 1930s. He then went to join the University of Birmingham where he completed a Ph.D. early in 1940.



During the Second World War Maurice Wilkins took a significant role where he carried out the phosphorescence research. In the process, he improved the radar systems that were used during the war. He then went to the US where he played a significant role in the Manhattan Project. It was here that he created an atomic bomb.

After few years, Maurice started to lose interest in the fabrication of nuclear weapons. In 1945 he saw himself in Scotland where he joined the University of St. Andrews. It was here that he served as an assistant director of the Physics department. With all the resources and freedom at hand, Maurice started to work on X-ray patterns where he produced different molecular structures. He furthered his research by helping his colleague John Randal to solve biological problems. It was here that Maurice called the study as biophysics where came out with not one but more experiments.

Early in 1946, Maurice went to the King’s College in London together with his partner, Randall. It was here that they joined a Biophysics Unit in one of the notable Universities. Wilkins continued to serve as the assistant director while Randal acted as the Professor of the whole department.

It was in 1950 that Maurice Wilkins and another student Raymond Gosling came up with the first image of DNA in conjunction with X-ray diffraction analysis. The same year James Watson and Francis Crick joined Wilkin in his investigations. As four researchers, they came to prove that a DNA cell consisted of a helical build structure in 1951. As a group, Maurice managed to get the first picture of DNA structure with the help of fibers.

In 1950 Maurice Wilkins was appointed as the Assistant Director of Medical Research Council as well as the Deputy Director in 1955. He also acted as an Honorary Lecturer in the field of Biophysics in 1961. From 1960 to 1970 he served as a professor at King’s College London. In the mid of 1969, he was appointed as the president of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science. He remained in the said position till his retirement in 1981.


Personal Life and Achievements

In 2003 Maurice Wilkins released his first biography titled: The Third Man of the Double Helix. In 1959 he was selected as the Fellow of the Royal Society. From 1960 to 1962 Maurice received awards and recognitions like Companion of the British Empire, Albert Laker Award and Noble Prize for Medicine.

Maurice Wilkins first married Ruth, an art student with whom he had a son. He then married Patricia Ann Chidgey in 1959. The couple was blessed with two daughters: Emily and Sarah and two sons: William and George. Before and in the course of WWII Maurice was an active member of Cambridge Scientists Anti-War Group. In his honor, The King’s College London was built in the UK. Maurice Hugh Wilkins breathed his last in 2004.

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