Ann Sayre, the author who helped gain recognition for British crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, died on Friday from scleroderma, a rare rheumatoid disorder. She was 74. Sayre’s book, Rosalind Franklin and DNA, was published in 1975 and was hailed by feminists for helping to expose Dr. Franklin’s pivotal role in the discovery of DNA and the sexism in the scientific world that denied her recognition for this find.
Sayre’s book recalled Franklin’s diffraction X-ray photograph of a DNA molecule that was later given to Dr. James Watson and Dr. Francis Crick, who won recognition their discovery of the double helix that forms deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). In Sayre’s book, Dr. Crick admitted that Franklin was close to discovering the double helix herself.
Sayre also wrote an honored young adult book, Never Call Retreat, in 1957. She received her law degree from New York University late in life, worked as a volunteer Legal Aid lawyer, and became town justice in Head of the Harbor, New York.