Sir Otto Herzberg Frankel. 4 November 1900 — 21 November 1998

Lloyd T. Evans

Elected F.R.S. 1953


Sir Otto Frankel-whom I shall refer to as Otto because that is how we all addressed him-was a geneticist by training, a plant breeder by occupation, a cytologist by inclination and a genetic conservationist by acclaim. Apart from his personal research, Otto was a highly effective builder and leader of research groups, a Socratic gadfly to the scientific establishment, and a high prophet of the genetic resources conservation movement. His career in science was unusual in that his most widely acclaimed work was done after his official retirement. A man of inexhaustible variety of opinions, he had a complex personality that could be rough or kindly, bored or engaged, impossible or altogether charming by turns, and he did not wish this memoir to paint him otherwise.

Otto refused to write an autobiographical sketch, and did not keep many records. However, two interviews with him about his career were recorded, by Gavan McCarthy (McCarthy 1985) and by Max Blythe (Blythe 1993). Much of the information and views quoted here are from records of discussions that I had with him over many years.

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