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Francis Harry Compton Crick was born on June 8 1916 at Northampton, where his father and uncle ran a family firm which produced boots and shoes. Neither of his parents was scientifically inclined but Francis manifested an early interest. By the time he was 10, he was conducting chemical experiments at home, blowing up empty bottles with explosive mixtures, a practice soon banned by his parents.
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In 1949, Crick married Odile Speed (born 8-11-1920 in King's Lynn, Norfolk, daughter of a British jeweler, Alfred Valentine Speed, and a French mother, Marie-Therese Josephine Speed (nee Jaeger)). Odile was an art student at St. Martin's School of Art in London, in Paris, and was studying in Vienna when German troops entered that city. She served as a WREN (Women's Royal Naval Service) officer whose activities included driving trucks, code-breaking, and translating German documents. She met Francis in 1945 at the Admiralty. The Cricks lived in a small flat called the Green Door above a tobacconist shop in Cambridge. Their first daughter, Gabrielle, was born in 1951, followed by Jacqueline in 1954.
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At age 18, Crick attended University College in London (UCL). In 1937, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree, second honors, in Physics with a minor in mathematics. With family financial aid, Crick began graduate study at UCL until the outbreak of World War II interrupted his studies. Crick's war work involved research on magnetic and acoustic mines for the British Admiralty. Briefly, he worked for Naval Intelligence at Whitehall in London. In 1940, he married Ruth Doreen Dodd, a UCL English Literature undergrad, and their son, Michael, was born during an air raid on November 25, 1940.