Rosalind Venetia Pitt-Rivers FRS (1907-1990)
Rosalind Pitt-Rivers was born into a fashionable and well-connected English family. Hooked on science by the gift of a chemistry set at the age of 12, she attended Bedford College for Women, getting a BSc with first class honours in 1930 and a Masters degree in 1931. In 1937 she went to University College Hospital Medical School to do a PhD with Albert Neuberger then worked with Charles Harington on the biosynthesis of the thyroid hormone L-thyroxine. Following Harington to NIMR, Pitt-Rivers became known as much for her eccentricity – wearing ballet shoes to work and smoking a pipe – as for her friendliness and generosity, hosting weekend parties at the Pitt-Rivers estate at Hinton St. Mary, Dorset. She performed outstanding research and assisted Harington in running his laboratory. Curiously, Harington was “the only person with whom she maintained a degree of formality throughout their association over 25 years” with “each addressing the other as ‘Sir Charles’ and ‘Dr Pitt-Rivers’.” She retired from NIMR in 1972.