I am frequently asked for my opinion on the speculation that Francis Crick was on LSD when he discovered the double helix; or that he was involved with a man named Dick Kemp in the manufacture of LSD. These assertions were reported second hand in an article in the Mail on Sunday by Alun Rees following Crick’s death and they have since gained a certain amount of traction on the internet. Both stories are wrong. The true story, which I was told directly by Crick’s widow and by the man who (as his widow confirms) first supplied the Cricks with LSD, is much less sensational. Crick was given (not sold) LSD on several occasions from 1967 onwards by Henry Todd, who met the Cricks through his girlfriend. Todd did know Kemp, with whom he was eventually prosecuted, but the Cricks did not. As for the implausible idea that the then impoverished and conventional Crick would have had access to LSD when it was newly invented in the early 1950s, there is simply no evidence for it at all. Those who wish to argue that LSD helped Crick make discoveries should note that all his major breakthroughs in molecular biology were made before 1967.

Buy Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code

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You can also buy it from my favourite bookshop Aldeburgh Bookshop

Book Reviews

Ridley…presents the science very clearly…a detailed and more balanced record than in some earlier accounts.

Times Literary Supplement

From the pages of this biography Crick emerges as a powerful, dominating figure who ruled seminars and parties with equal ease, and Ridley, an experienced science writer, with a neat turn of phrase and a proper appreciation of brevity can be satisfied he has done justice to his subject. His book has pace, concisenness and wit! The book is a delight.

The Observer

Ridley explains his discoveries with wonderful clarity.

Telegraph Review

In this excellent first biography of Francis Crick, who died in 2004, the suspense is terrific!authoritative!lucid!he captures Crick’s audacity, brilliance and, not least, eloquence.

Sunday Times

Matt Ridley’s FRANCIS CRICK perceptively and warmly recounts the extraordinary life of the twentieth century’s most important biologist.

James D. Watson

Ridley’s thoughtful book aims less to unearth new facts than to highlight undervalued ones. He has found some new material…

The New York Times

Matt Ridley’s biography of Francis Crick pays due tribute to one of the greatest scientists ever

Robin McKie, The Guardian

‘he was no stereotypical white-lab-coated humourless absent-minded professor’, says biographer Matt Ridley

Bill Thompson's "Eye on books"

This is a wonderful book–deeply substantive, lucid, trenchant, and witty. It tells the biggest story in modern biology.

David Quammen

A briskly written essential for the DNA shelf . . . Ridley’s fluency in the pertinent molecular biology is refined by his stylistic clarity.