28 April, 1953

In the shoebox was an packet, labelled Donald Maclean, 1962, that contained a small bit of 1/4 inch tape. I’ve had a friend make an mp3 from it and beep out Annie’s surname in the recording (thanks Roddy!). I know I might be being over cautious, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I will also paste a transcript of the tape and scan the envelope.

First though, here is the diary entry from the 28th April, 1953. Annie mentions an ‘envelope’ – which is one of the items in the shoebox. I will share the contents of the envelope with you later – it sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

Heather x


28 April page 1 28 April page 2

28 April

I had a particularly busy day today, with a full schedule of meetings and lectures to teach so didn’t get back to the lab until gone 4 p.m. Vasi and I checked in with the experiment and everything is running on course. I shall tell more about that side of things later, but now, refreshed with a cup of tea, I want to tell you a little bit about my early days at Cambridge.

I arrived here, a fresh-faced 18-year-old in 1931. It all seems like such a terribly long time ago now, but I still imagine myself to be 18 and am always shocked when I see my reflection. In many ways I was naïve, I had never had a ‘proper’ boyfriend, and certainly wasn’t prepared for the pressures of being the only female in a large class of physicists. The common caricature of a bumbling physicist is a bit misleading, as some of my classmates were quite charming – attractive, even. I, however, was much more interested in the athletes and would spend an inordinate amount of time watching the rowers train along the river. I think a fair assessment of my undergraduate studies would be ‘lacklustre’ – I enjoyed the course, but enjoyed watching the rowers more. It wasn’t until my final year that I met Dr. S______, a man who has been both an inspiration and a friend throughout my academic life, that I regained focus on my studies. Dr. S______ had worked briefly with Niels Bohr, a hero of mine, back in 1911 and it was during a conversation about Bohr that my passion for physics was reignited and I decided to stay on at Cambridge and pursue a Master’s degree. Of course, the envelope (which I shall write more about later) played a large part in my decision.

 Dr. S______ wasn’t the first person to mention a rather odd pair of physicists that were working somewhat under the radar. Rumours of Stephen and Conrad’s unorthodox lines of research were legendary amongst young Cambridge scientists, but S______ was the first to suggest that they might actually be on to something. He was an ardent supporter of what was (and is) regarded by many as a ridiculous concept and believed, quite rightly, that Stephen was/is and always will be a genius.


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