Clarke Papers

Scope and Content

The material in this collection covers the period 1963 to 2002, although the bulk of the material dates from the 1980s and 1990s. it is arranged as follows:

Section A - Biographical:

Includes autobiographical material compiled and assembled in connection with her Personal Record as a Fellow of the Royal Society, a full curriculum vitae and an transcript of her video-tape interview for the Biochemical Society. There is also documentation of a number of the later honours she was accorded. Clarke's interest in school education in general and science teaching in particular, is documented, with papers relating to Deer Park School Cirencester of which Clarke was a Governor 1988-1999. Her concern for education is also reflected in her correspondence with local and national politicians, although other topics are covered including tobacco advertising and the treatment of asylum seekers.

Section B - Women in Science:

Documents both Clarke's interest in the historical contribution of women scientists, and her concern to ensure that more women became scientists and that their career prospects were the same as those of their male colleagues. The material, which includes correspondence, notes, printed reports and photocopied background material, was assembled by Clarke in connection with a number of specific activities: her 1991 lecture 'Women in Science at University College 1878-1978'; a Royal Society meeting on 'Women in Science and Technology:

opportunities for change?', 28 May 1993; her service on the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Technology established in 1993 by William Waldegrave MP, Minister for Public Service and Science, whose report The Rising Tide' was published in 1994; and a meeting on Women in Science at the Royal Society, 27 March 2001.

Section C - Publications and lectures:

Documents a few of Clarke's publications from the 1980s onwards. The largest components relate to her Royal Society Biographical Memoirs of colleagues Roger Yate Stanier and Malcolm Douglas Lilly and her entry on Muriel Robertson for the New Dictionary of National Biography. There is also an incomplete set of offprints of her work. Lectures material includes documentation of her 1979 Royal Society Leeuwenhoek Lecture 'Experiments in microbial evolution: new enzymes, new metabolic activities' and the 19th J.D. Bernal Lecture on 'New directions in biology: basic science and biotechnology', delivered at Birkbeck College London, 1988.

Section D - Societies and organisations:

Small section relating to eight UK and overseas organisations, including (UK) the British National Bibliographical Research Fund and the Royal Society, chiefly its Archives Working Group and Library Committee, and (overseas) the Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong. The material spans 1975-2001.

Section E - Visits and conferences:

Covers some of Clarke's travel and attendance at meetings over the period 1971-1998, although the earlier entries are later (c 1998) typescript accounts compiled by Clarke from her diary entries. Of particular significance is the documentation of her visits to the Far East through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, including Singapore, Malaysia (in connection with the Palm Oil Research Institute) 1990-1992, China and Hong Kong. There is also material relating to her involvement in two 1992 meetings marking the centenary of the birth of J.B.S. Haldane.

Section F - Correspondence:

This is the largest part of the collection. The bulk of this material was arranged by Clarke by group of correspondents and then further subdivided by individual correspondent, and it has been retained in this original order. There are groups of correspondence with her fellow researchers at University College London, with colleagues in the UK and with fellow scientists in the USA and Europe. Few correspondents are represented by extended exchanges of letters, the exceptions being R.E. Drew and B.W. Holloway. Other correspondents include S. Brenner, H.L. Kornberg, R.D. Sager and R.Y. Stanier.

Administrative / Biographical History

Patricia Hannah Green was born in Pontypridd, South Wales on 29 July 1919. She attended Coedpenmaen Elementary School and, in 1930, was awarded a scholarship to the County Grammar School. She did not take this up since in the same year she had been awarded a Foundation Scholarship to Howell's School Llandaff. She went up to Cambridge in 1937 to read Natural Sciences, having obtained a place at Girton College. Later she was awarded a scholarship in Chemistry. She studied Biochemistry for Part II of the Natural Sciences Tripos but, in the summer of 1940, she relinquished a research scholarship in order to take up war work. Her first post was in a branch of the Armament Research Department of the Ministry of Supply that had been evacuated to the University of Wales in Swansea. Later she was transferred to Woolwich Arsenal to continue her work on new explosives. In 1944 she was able to leave Woolwich and to take a post as Research Assistant to B.C.J.G. Knight at the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Beckenham, Kent. His work at that time was concerned with pathogenic anaerobic bacteria that cause severe infections of war wounds.

In 1940 she married Michael Clarke. He joined the Army in 1940 and became a Tank Commander, serving in the Western Desert, India and the Middle East. When the war ended he returned to England and after being demobilised he became a documentary film director. They had two sons; Francis born in 1947 and David born in 1949. Clarke continued to be involved in microbial biochemistry but decided to take a few years away from full-time employment. In 1951 she joined S.T. Cowan to work part-time at the Medical Research Council National Collection of Type Cultures based at the Central Public Health Laboratory in Colindale, London. This was a productive period during which she devised micromethods for identification of bacteria using enzyme reactions. When the MRC suggested she should work full-time she thought that in that case she might move on.

In 1953 Clarke was appointed to an Assistant Lectureship in the Department of Biochemistry at University College London with a special responsibility for Microbial Biochemistry. She remained at University College London for the rest of her career, being promoted to Lecturer in 1956, Reader in 1966 and Professor in 1974. On retirement in 1984 she was appointed Professor Emeritus of the University of London. In 1996 she was elected an Honorary Fellow of University College. She was also Honorary Lecturer in the Genetics Department of Monash University Australia in 1971, Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology 1994-1987 and Royal Society Kan Tong-Po Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong 1986.

Clarke had many other professional commitments. She served on the Council of Society for General Microbiology 1960-1970, the Executive Committee of the Biochemical Society 1978-1981 and the Council of the Freshwater Biological Association 1980-1984. Clarke also was a member of the Science Board of the Science Research Council (1979-1984), the Governing Body of Wye College (1980-1986), the Council of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1982-1984) and the Council of the University of Bath (1987-1993). Other commitments included the British National Bibliographic Research Fund 1990-200 and, locally, the Council of Cheltenham Ladies College (1984-1990) and Board of Governors of Deer Park School, Cirencester 1988-1999.

Clarke's entry in International Women in Science (ed. C.M.C. Haines, Oxford, 2001) summarises her scientific work as follows: 'Clarke's main research, with her students and colleagues, was on the properties and the evolution of bacterial enzymes. By selecting mutants with the ability to grow on novel substrates they obtained strains producing altered enzymes, altered transport systems and altered regulatory systems. They were the first to show that a single site mutation could result in altered substrate specificity. They also showed that a range of novel enzymes could evolve from successive single site mutations. She also collaborated with biochemical engineers in research on methods for producing and purifying bacterial enzymes for industrial use and became involved in developments in biotechnology'.

For her contributions to microbial biochemistry, Clarke was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1976 (Leeuwenhoek Lecture 1979), serving on Council and as Vice-President 1981-1982. She died on 28th January 2010.


Arranged in sections as follows: Biographical; Women in Science; Publications and Lectures; Societies and Organisations; Visits and Conferences and Correspondence.

Correspondence is arranged in Clarke's original order - by groups of correspondents and then further subdivided by individual correspondents.

Access Information

Certain restrictions apply

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking. Some files are closed under the Data Protection Act 1998. Please see the individual file level records for full information.

Acquisition Information

Received from Professor Clarke, 2002.

Other Finding Aids

A full, detailed list is available online.

Custodial History

The papers were received from Professor Clarke in 2002.


Catalogued by Timothy E. Powell and Peter Harper, of the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists (NCUACS).