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My creative and athletic mother


My mother: Naomi Mitchison
Avrion Mitchison Scientist
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I was taken to the Hammersmith Birth Control Ball, where we lived- Hammersmith was nearby- at the age of minus a month. I can't say that I remember it, but that was, as far as I was concerned, that was my beginning in Nou's political views, and she was- she was very much writing from that standpoint. People remember her for her- would only read her these days, for her- I think for her historical novels, particularly for her first novel which is 'The Corn King and the Spring Queen' written about the very early Greek history, pre-classical Greek history. Then she wrote about France, Vercingetorix and the Gauls and the Romans, and she was very proud of being made a member of the Legion d'honneur for that. She had a little red ribbon. She was very proud of that. And she later wrote about Scottish history, she wrote 'The Bull Calves' about her own family after the '45 but she also wrote more overtly political work, particularly, 'We Have Been Warned', a novel which she published in the late 1930s. She linked herself with the left in Germany, but especially in Austria where the Dollfuss Government was shelling the workers flats in Vienna. And I remember her coming back and telling us about that and how- how terrible that was. She explained how you had to, if you were speaking- making a speech in German you started by saying, Genosse und Genossinen- Genossinen - comrades- male comrades and female comrades, and I was tremendously impressed by that. And when I went to live in Germany myself, much- years later, I said well can I begin my speech by talking- by addressing them as Genosse and Genossinen, and they said, not on any account.

Avrion Mitchison, the British zoologist, is currently Professor Emeritus at University College London and is best known for his work demonstrating the role of lymphocytes in tumour rejection and for the separate and cooperative roles of T- and B-lymphocytes in this and other processes.

Listeners: Martin Raff

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Duration: 2 minutes, 25 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008