A Very Decided Preference

A Very Decided Preference : Life with Peter Medawar

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Peter Medawar was an extremely succesful scientist who won the Nobel Prize in 1960. Nine years later, at the age of 54, he was crippled by a cerebral haemorrhage. This is his widow's story of her life with Sir Peter. It provides an insight into the life of a significant 20th-century scientist, and is a companion to his own autobiography, "Memoir of a Thinking Radish".show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 140 x 215mm | 237g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 8 b&w plates, index
  • 0192828541
  • 9780192828545

Table of contents

Flashback, Exeter Cathedral, 1969; students at Oxford, 1935; marriage, 1937; war years in Oxford, 1939-1945; the "Boy Professor," 1947-1952; life in London, 1951; Nobel Laureate, 1960; director of the National Institute, 1962-1966; the crash, 1969; progress, 1971; moves and travels, 1974-1980; setback, 1980; losing ground, 1984; "Not a tragedy, but an epic," 1985; finale, 1987.show more

Review Text

A loving, personal reminiscence of the author's 50-year marriage to the late Nobel Prize-winning immunologist. "I have a very decided preference for life," Sir Medawar announced at age 54, shortly after experiencing his first stroke while reading aloud in Exeter Cathedral - an event that left him permanently disabled. This preference for living grows increasingly clear as Lady Medawar re-creates memories of her husband as the handsome and brilliant 20-year-old Cambridge student he was when she met him; as an ambitious 32-year-old professor at the Univ. of Manchester; as the 45-year-old winner of the Nobel Prize; and as an author, researcher in immunology, and father of four children. Rarely idle, Medawar relaxed by simply turning to another task; it follows that after his stroke he continued his life of traveling, lecturing, writing books, directing the National Institute of Medical Research, maintaining longtime friendships, and enjoying the opera (often to the point of tears), with his wife always at his side. In this way, an additional 18 years were added to an already long and fulfilling relationship; and though the author mildly laments her husband's disinclination to involve himself more with the children, she concludes that their then-traditional division of labor allowed Medawar to achieve an enormous amount and, in general, worked well for them. Replete with vivid images (the couple writing, face to face, at a partners' desk in the study; the pleasures of the royal treatment provided them in Stockholm), this slim volume offers an unself-conscious portrait of a rich life maintained, thanks to the author's sensitivity and determination, until the day of her husband's death. Sir Medawar's charm and originality come alive here, as do, unwittingly, his inspiring partner's. (Kirkus Reviews)show more