April’s event was an Open Meeting with an invitation to Group WI’s, families and friends to a presentation on the life and work of Dorothy Hodgkin. Dorothy Hodgkin remains the only British woman to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in any of the three sciences and spent the later part of her life in Ilmington.

Georgina Ferry, a science writer and journalist and Hodgkin’s biographer presented a filmed performance of “Hidden Glory: Dorothy Hodgkin in her own words”, a 40-minute, one-woman show, scripted by her and acted professionally, first performed to mark Dorothy Hodgkin’s centenary in 2010.

Created almost entirely from Dorothy Hodgkin’s own letters and reminiscences the play covered her childhood love of chemistry experiments, her student years, love, marriage and children, and her research into penicillin and insulin. She advanced the technique of x-ray crystallography, confirming the structures of penicillin and vitamin B for which work she was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1969.

Following the birth of her first child, Dorothy Hodgkin developed chronic rheumatoid arthritis. This left her hands swollen and distorted, yet she continued to carry out the delicate manipulations necessary to mount and photograph the tiny crystals, smaller than a grain of salt, that she used in her studies.

The play was a highly impressive and original way of narrating the life and work of such an inspirational woman. We then had the opportunity during a Q and A session of hearing about Dorothy Hodgkin’s commitment to the cause of scientists in developing countries, especially China and India, and to improved East-West relations and disarmament. We were also fortunate that Dorothy’s daughter Elizabeth Hodgkin was present and shared memories of her mother and her time in Ilmington.