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Twort, Frederick William (1877-1950)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0120 GC/176
Held at: Wellcome Library
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Full title: Twort, Frederick William (1877-1950)
Date(s): 1896-1983
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 3 boxes
Name of creator(s): Twort | Frederick William | 1877-1950 | bacteriologist
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Twort went into research shortly after he qualified in medicine in 1900. In 1909 he was appointed Superintendent of the Brown Institution in South London, a post he held until the building was destroyed during the Blitz in 1944, apart from a period of service in Salonika at the Base Laboratories during World War I. In 1929 he was elected FRS and in 1931 the title of Professor of Bacteriology was conferred on him by the University of London. He did important work on the bacteriophage and was involved in controversy with Félix d'Hérelle over priority in research findings. Twort's research interests were wide and included developing improved wireless reception and work on removing impurities in latex. Described in an obituary as an 'erratic genius' he was no stranger to controversy, criticising his military superiors during his war service and initiating a legal case against the Medical Research Council when they terminated their funding to the Brown Institution. Details of a biography of Twort by his son are given below.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Frederick William Twort or about him, mainly his work at the Brown Institution, including laboratory notes and correspondence, etc from the period 1903-1950, including correspondence on the study of bacteriophages.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The bulk was arranged in files created by his son for the purpose of writing a biography. Most of the material was in post files, from which items have been removed and placed in acid free folders but otherwise kept together. Some slight rearrangement of the experimental notes in B.3 was undertaken to restore the sequence. The material relating to his wireless research, B.2, was loose in a file. One file of loose material labelled 'Various papers and letters', which includes career items, testimonials, congratulatory letters, and general correspondence with colleagues, associates and friends, has been sorted into several files now listed in Section A. The sections are as follows: A Personalia; B Research; C Case against the Medical Research Council.

Conditions governing access:

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

These papers were received in Oct 1993 from Dr Antony Twort, the son of FW Twort, and an additional accession in May 2003 from the same.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For other material in the field of bacteriology, see also Archives and Manuscripts Department, Wellcome Library collections: PP/COL, PP/CRA, PP/GSW, PP/HAR, PP/VAN, SA/AMC, SA/HIS, SA/LIS, GC/4, 12, 33, 70, 130, 170, 177, 180, 200, 221, 278, RAMC, WA/BSR, WA/PHO.

Publication note:

Biography by son, Antony Twort, In Focus, Out of Step: A biography of Frederick William Twort FRS, 1877-1950 (Stroud, Gloucs: Alan Sutton, 1993)>

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Copied from the Wellcome Library catalogue by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Mar 2009.

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