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Accelerated early schooling


Learning to read from the tablecloth
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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I learnt to read at a very early age because round the corner from us, again, there was a… a lady whose husband had been a tailor and she had died. But she had known my mother's family from Latvia because they'd all come from the same time – as it was called there, Landsleute; that is, all people who originated from the same thing – and I had gone… and I spent quite a lot of time with her. She lived in a tiny room where she cooked for herself, and she taught me to read from the newspapers that were on the table – which of course in lieu of tablecloths – and this is where I learned to read; so that by the age of four, I could read quite fluently.

South African Sydney Brenner (1927-2019) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. His joint discovery of messenger RNA, and, in more recent years, his development of gene cloning, sequencing and manipulation techniques along with his work for the Human Genome Project have led to his standing as a pioneer in the field of genetics and molecular biology.

Listeners: Lewis Wolpert

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. He was originally trained as a civil engineer in South Africa but changed to research in cell biology at King's College, London in 1955. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has presented science on both radio and TV and for five years was Chairman of the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science.



Listen to Lewis Wolpert at Web of Stories



Tags: Latvia

Duration: 55 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 24 January 2008