Papers of: Heatley, Norman George (b 1911)

Scope and Content

This small but important collection is concerned with the research and development of penicillin. Heatley's laboratory notebooks (A.1-3), October 1939-June 1941, and sketches and diagrams of apparatus, 1941 (C. 1-5) form the core of the collection. The famous experiment of 25 May 1941 on the 'Curative Effect of Penicillin' on mice is recorded in notebook A.2. There are also diary entries, narratives and explanatory notes, some prepared by Heatley expressly for the collection. The correspondence and reports exchanged between Heatley and Florey (section D.) is a set of photocopies, included to provide a complete account of the collaboration between the two on the penicillin project.

Administrative / Biographical History

Heatley was born in 1911 and educated at Tonbridge School and St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1933. From 1933 to 1936 he worked under Joseph Needham at the School of Biochemistry, Cambridge, on microchemical methods applied to biological problems, and obtained his doctorate in 1936. In September 1936 Heatley came at the invitation of H.W. Florey to the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford, initially to work with E.B. Chain and, from October 1939, directly with Florey on the early research and development of penicillin. This close collaboration continued to June 1941 when Heatley accompanied Florey to the USA, bearing with him his research notebooks and sketches for apparatus. He remained there until June 1942. After his return to Oxford he resumed work at the Dunn School, and was a Nuffield Research Fellow of Lincoln College, 1948-1978. He was awarded the OBE in 1978 for his contributions to scientific research.


By section as follows: A. Laboratory notebooks, B. Narratives and diary entries, C. Descriptions and diagrams of apparatus, D. Correspondence with H.W. Florey.

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist, and after completing a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

These papers were placed in the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre (now Archives and Manuscripts following merger with Western Manuscripts) in 1983 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre (now the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists); the CSAC had received them for cataloguing from Heatley, 1980-1983 (CMAC accssion no 133).

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued by Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre, 1983 (Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Norman George Heatley: CSAC catalogue no. 96/7/83, 12 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath). Detailed catalogue available at

Archivist's Note

Description based on that created by NCUACS, University of Bath, with amendments by Helen Wakely, Wellcome Library.

Separated Material

Penicillin apparatus including some designed by Heatley, is held by the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies are supplied at the discretion of the Archivist; in the case of certain deposited collections, the permission of the owner may also be required. Please note that material may be unsuitable for photocopying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months.