Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of COLIN WILLIAM FRASER McCLARE (1937 - 1977)
|Title:||Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of COLIN WILLIAM FRASER McCLARE (1937 - 1977)|
SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL 77.1.81.A.1 - A.13
SECTION B NOTEBOOKS AND WORKING NOTES 77.1.81.B.1 - B.32
SECTION C SCIENTIFIC DRAFTS AND PUBLICATIONS 77.1.81.C.1 - C.42
SECTION D TALKS, LECTURES, CONFERENCES 77.1.81.D.1 - D.17
SECTION E TEACHING MATERIAL 77.1.81.E.1 - E.13
SECTION F SCIENTIFIC CORRESPONDENCE 77.1.81.F.1 - F.78
The papers were received from Mrs. G.A. McClare and from the Biophysics Department, King's College, London, by courtesy of Professor M.H.F. Wilkins, Head of Department.
Colin McClare was a Lecturer in Biophysics at King's College, London, from 1963 until he took his own life in 1977 at the age of 39. He was educated at Felsted School, Essex, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he took a B.A. in Natural Sciences (Chemistry) in 1958. The next five years were spent in Cambridge doing research - on the chemistry of free radicals in biology (Medical Research Council Studentship 1958 - 61) and on energy transfer in nucleic acids (Beit Fellowship 1961-63). He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1962 (see CSAC.77.1.81.A.8).
McClare's appointment to a Lecturership in Biophysics at King's College in 1963 led to a growing interest in bioenergetics and the problems of muscle contraction. He concluded that classical thermodynamics was inadequate for the description of biological processes, and that the application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to biological machines requires the introduction of time scales. His ideas were not generally accepted, and although he wrote extensively on the subject (see Sections csac.77.1.81.C and D) his manuscripts were not accepted for publication until 1971. His earlier published work relates mainly to the structure and function of biological membranes, in particular the purple membrane of the halophilic bacterium Halobacterium halobium.
The publication of four controversial papers by McClare in the Journal of Theoretical Biology and Nature (see p.5) generated a vigorous correspondence with scientists all over the world, much of which has survived and is now in Section F of the collection. McClare continued to pursue his research although his unorthodox approach failed to gain the approval of established scientific opinion, but after 1974 he applied himself to writing a book on thermodynamics in which he hoped to solve some of the fundamental problems of bioenergetics and gain some general measure of acceptance for his ideas. The book was nearing completion by the time of his death and the draft is currently in the hands of H. Morowicz with a view to editing the book for posthumous publication (see csac.77.1.81.A.13). Eventually it is hoped to include it with the rest of McClare's papers and an item number has been left vacant for it at 77.1.81.C.41.
McClare's death occurred during one of the bouts of depression to which he was increasingly subject from about 1967. His deep personal involvement with the scientific problems he chose to tackle and the continuing battle with the opponents of his ideas increasingly took its toll of his confidence and zest for living, and he took his own life on the night of 4 January 1977.
|Held by:||London University: King's College Archives, not available at The National Archives|
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REQUESTS TO CONSULT THE MATERIAL SHOULD BE ADDRESSED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE TO: THE LIBRARIAN, KING'S COLLEGE, LONDON.
Compiled by Jeannine Alton Julia Latham-Jackson
We are very grateful to Mrs. G.A. McClare, Dr. I. Gonda and Dr. W.R. Lieb for their preliminary sorting and identifying of the material, and for advice and information on various aspects of McClare's life and work."