was born on 24th March, 1917, in Oxford. His father, Wilfrid George Kendrew,
was Reader in Climatology in the University of Oxford; his mother, Evelyn
May Graham (Sandberg) Kendrew, was an art historian, for many years resident
in Florence, Italy, where she published works on the Italian Primitives
under the nom de plume Evelyn Sandberg Vavals.
He was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford (1923-1930) and Clifton College,
Bristol (1930-1936), and went to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1936 as
a Major Scholar. He graduated in Chemistry in 1939, and spent the first
few months of the war doing research on reaction kinetics in the Department
of Physical Chemistry at Cambridge under the supervision of Dr. E.A. Moelwyn-Hughes.
He then became a member of the Air Ministry Research Establishment (later
Telecommunication Research Establishment) and worked on radar. In 1940
he joined the staff of Sir Robert Watson-Watt (Scientific Adviser to the
Air Ministry) and for the rest of the war was engaged in operational research
at Royal Air Force headquarters, successively in Coastal Command, Middle
East, and South East Asia (where he was Scientific Adviser to the Allied
Air Commander-in-Chief); he held the honorary rank of Wing Commander R.A.F.
During the war years his interests became more biological, and largely
owing to the influence of J.D. Bernal and L. Pauling he decided to work
on the structure of proteins. He returned to Cambridge in 1946 and, in
the Cavendish Laboratory, began a collaboration with
Max Perutz, under
the direction of Sir Lawrence Bragg. He took his Ph.D. degree in 1949
and his Sc.D. in I962. He and Perutz were the first two members of the
Medical Research Council Unit at the Cavendish Laboratory, which has now
achieved separate existence as the Medical Research Council Laboratory
of Molecular Biology; he was Deputy Director of the former, and is now
Deputy Chairman of the latter, and Director of its Division of Structural
He became a Fellow of Peterhouse in 1947, Reader at the Davy-Faraday Laboratory
of the Royal Institution in London in 1954, Fellow of the Royal Society
in 1960, and an honorary member of the American Society of Biological
Chemists in 1962. Since 1960 he has been (part-time) Deputy to the Chief
Scientific Adviser, Ministry of Defence. He is Founder and Editor-in-Chief
of the Journal of Molecular Biology, and Honorary Secretary of
the British Biophysical Society. In 1962, he was made Companion of the
His research has been in the field of protein structure, and has mostly
centred on the X-ray analysis of myoglobin. This project culminated in
the production of a three-dimensional model of myoglobin at 6Å resolution
in 1957, and an almost complete structure in 1960.
Kendrew is unmarried. His recreations are music, history of art (following
his mother's footsteps particularly Italian art), and travelling in Italy.
Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1942-1962.
C. Kendrew died in August 1997.