Letter from Francis Crick to Thomas J. Wilson, Harvard University Press
Harvard University Press was the chosen publisher of Watson's account of the discovery of the double helix. In his letter
to the publisher's executive director, Crick raised the possibility of suing Watson for libel if publication proceeded.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (204,163 Bytes)
1966-10-21 (October 21, 1966)
Wilson, Thomas J.
Harvard University Press
Original Repository: Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Francis Harry Compton Crick Papers
I don't think you quite understand the position. Of course Wilkins and I may have to sue Watson for libel, but apart from
that a moral issue is involved. When a piece of work is published in collaboration it is considered very bad form for one
author to reveal in public how the work was divided. Naturally if all the authors consent to this it is quite acceptable.
In this case, however, both Wilkins and I object to Watson's account for reasons which any scholar will understand. In
the circumstances if Watson insists on publishing his book against our wishes the scientific community will look upon it as
an act of bad manners and bad faith, to say the least.
Of course that is up to him. However what is regretable is that the Harvard University Press should be a party to it. The
purely literary value of this work is in fact rather low. A number of people who have read it consider it to be poorly written
and in bad taste. It will be bought mainly because of the tittle-tattle and the scandal. I can foresee that your book-list
will become known as "True Confessions". Is this what you want?