Papers and correspondence of Patricia Hannah Clarke, b. 1919

Reference and contact details: GB 0103 P.H. Clarke papers
Title: Papers and correspondence of Patricia Hannah Clarke, b. 1919
Dates of creation: 1963-2002 (bulk, 1980s and 1990s)
Held at: University College, London
Extent: 9 boxes
Name of Creator: Patricia Hannah Clarke
Level of Description: fonds
Language of Material: eng


Administrative/Biographical History

Patricia Hannah Green was born in Pontypridd, Wales, on 29 July 1919. She studied at Howells School, Llandaff before winning a scholarship to the University of Cambridge to study Biochemistry. She entered Girton College in 1937, graduating in 1940. She then left Cambridge for war work at the Armament Research Department of the Ministry of Supply, initially relocated from Woolwich to Swansea, where she worked on the chemistry of explosives. She returned to biochemistry in 1944, joining B.C.J.G. Knight's research group at the Wellcome Research Laboratories at Beckenham, Kent. In 1940 she had married Michael Clarke and, following the birth of her two children in 1947 and 1949, Clarke stopped work in order to bring them up. She returned to part-time employment in 1951, working with S.T. Cowan at the National Collection of Type Cultures of bacteria, based at the Central Public Health Laboratory at Colindale, London.

In 1953 Clarke resumed full-time work as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry at University College London. She remained at UCL for the rest of her career, being appointed Lecturer 1956, Reader 1966 and Professor of Microbial Biochemistry in 1974 (Professor Emeritus 1984). She was also Honorary Professorial Fellow at University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology 1984-1987 and Royal Society Kan Tong-Po Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong 1986.

Clarke had many other professional commitments. She served on the Council of the Society for General Microbiology 1960-1970, the Executive Committee of the Biochemical Society 1978-1981 and the Council of the Freshwater Biological Association 1980-1984. Clarke also was a member of the Science Research Council (1979-1984), the Governing Body of Wye College (1980-1986), the Council of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1982-1984) and the Council of the University of Bath (1987-1993). Other commitments included the British National Bibliography Research Fund 1990-2000 and, locally, the Council of Cheltenham Ladies College 1984-1990 and the Board of Governors of Deer Park School, Cirencester 1988-1999.

Clarke's entry in International Women in Science (ed. C.M.C. Haines, Oxford, 2001), summarises her scientific work as follows: 'Clarke's main research, with her students and colleagues, was on the properties and the evolution of bacterial enzymes. By selecting mutants with the ability to grow on novel substrates they obtained strains producing altered enzymes, altered transport systems and altered regulatory systems. They were the first to show that a single site mutation could result in altered substrate specificity. They also showed that a range of novel enzymes could evolve from successive single site mutations. She also collaborated with biochemical engineers in research on methods for producing and purifying bacterial enzymes for industrial use and became involved in developments in biotechnology'.

For her contributions to microbial biochemistry, Clarke was elected FRS in 1976 (Leeuwenhoek Lecture 1979), serving on Council and as Vice-President 1981-1982.

Scope and Content

Biographical papers include autobiographical material compiled and assembled in connection with the preparation of her Personal Record as a Fellow of the Royal Society, a full curriculum vitae and a transcript of her video-tape interview for the Biochemical Society. There is also documentation of a number of the later honours she was accorded. Clarke's interest in school education in general and science teaching in particular, is documented, with papers relating to Deer Park School Cirencester of which Clarke was a Governor 1988-1999. Her concern for education is also reflected in her correspondence with local and national politicians, although other topics are covered.

There is significant documentation of both Clarke's interest in the historical contribution of women scientists, and her concern to ensure that more women became scientists with career prospects the same as those of their male colleagues. The material was assembled by Clarke in connection with a number of specific activities: her 1991 lecture 'Women in Science at University College 1878-1978'; a Royal Society meeting on 'Women in Science and Technology: opportunities for change?', 28 May 1993; her service on the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Technology established in 1993 by William Waldegrave MP, Minister for Public Service and Science, whose report The Rising Tide was published in 1994; and a meeting on Women in Science at the Royal Society, 27 March 2001.

There is documentation for a few of Clarke's publications from the 1980s on, most substantially her Royal Society Biographical Memoirs of colleagues Roger Yate Stanier and Malcolm Douglas Lilly and her entry on Muriel Robertson for the New Dictionary of National Biography. There is also an incomplete set of offprints of her published work. Lectures material includes documentation of her 1979 Royal Society Leeuwenhoek Lecture 'Experiments in microbial evolution: new enzymes, new metabolic activities' and the 19th J.D. Bernal Lecture on 'New directions in biology: basic science and biotechnology', delivered at Birkbeck College London, 1988. Societies and organisations material is not extensive. There is material relating to eight United Kingdom and overseas organisations, including the British National Bibliographical Research Fund and the Royal Society, chiefly its Archives Working Group and Library Committee, and the Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong. The material spans 1975-2001. Visits and conferences material covers some of Clarke's travel and attendance at meetings over the period 1971-1998, although documentation of the earlier visits is in the form of later typescript accounts compiled by Clarke from her diary entries. Of particular significance is the documentation of her visits to the Far East through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, including Singapore, Malaysia 1990-1992, China and Hong Kong.

Correspondence forms the largest component in the collection. The bulk of this material was arranged by Clarke by group of correspondents and then further subdivided by individual correspondent, and it has been retained in this original order. There is correspondence with her fellow researchers at University College London, with colleagues in the UK and with fellow scientists in the USA and Europe. Few correspondents are represented by extended exchanges of letters, the exceptions being R.E. Drew and B.W. Holloway.

System of Arrangement

By section as follows: Biographical, Women in science, Publications and lectures, Societies and organisations, Visits and conferences, Correspondence. Index of correspondents.

Administrative Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were received from Professor Clarke in 2002

Access Conditions

Access: If you wish to visit the Special Collections please note that spaces are limited and you must make an appointment first. Admission is by UCL ID and/or by completing a reader application form for consultation for manuscripts and archives.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled in March 2005 by Dr Tim Powell, NCUACS

Further Information

Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of P.H. Clarke: NCUACS catalogue no.120/6/03, 56 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath