LBS 333        Topics in the History of Genetics and Molecular Biology    Fall 2000

James Dewey Watson

(April 6, 1928-  )

Odile Crick on Jim Watson (as told to Horace Freeland Judson):

Several times, in conversations with Francis, he told me about this or that, "Well, Odile actually saw more of Rosalind than I did at that time," or "You ought to ask Odile about her impressions of Jim."  I hadn't met Odile Crick, but then one evening at a mid-summer's party...I did meet her and told her what Francis had said.  A week or so later, I went around to the Crick's house.  Francis was away, but Odile had a woman friend visiting.  We sat in the sitting room and talked. We moved to the kitchen and talked.  We went to another sitting room and talked.  For some reason, I wasn't using a tape recorder, but rather a notebook. The notebook sat open on my knee, but a wrote nothing down.  Odile was telling me the same things Francis had told me--and most often in the very same words.  This was a vivid demonstration of something I had long realized, that one of the problems with interviewing is that people often tend to remember not the events themselves but rather the way in which they have recounted those events most recently.  I was getting the canonical accounts, the traditional versions, of Rosalind and Jim, and not succeeding in breaking through to fresh memory.

    Then I asked, desperately, "Well, what was Jim like in those days?"  Odile told the obligatory story about Jim's arriving with a crew cut.  My page remained blank.  I waited.  Then she said, "He ate a lot of ice cream."  I wrote down ice cream, and waited. She said, "He came around alot."  I had a sudden vision of this skinny post-adolescent, brilliant but socially awkward, yet ingratiating, who hung around to the point, no doubt, of being something of a pest.  Then Odile said, "Of course, he was jealous of Francis."  I wrote down jealous of Francis, and waited. "Of his success."  I wrote down success.  And waited.  "Of his social success." I wrote down social success.  And waited.  "Of his success with girls."

Click Here for Watson's Preoccupation with Sex