Most famously, the recurring accounts of Selkirk’s ordeal and triumph led to the printing of one of the most successful novels ever. In 1719, Daniel Defoe published “Robinson Crusoe.” Published and republished, the subject of plays, movies, and television, Robinson Crusoe is one of the most recognisable fictional characters of all time and one of the few based on a real person with a real story of tremendous accomplishment.
William Parry Murphy of Stoughton, Wisconsin was born on this date in 1892. He was an American physician who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1934 with George Richards Minot and George Hoyt Whipple for their combined work in devising and treating macrocytic anaemia (specifically, pernicious anaemia). He was educated at the public schools of Wisconsin and Oregon. He completed his A.B. degree in 1914 from the University of Oregon. He completed his M.D. in 1922 from Harvard Medical School. In 1924, Murphy bled dogs to make them anaemic (work inspired by war injury work), and then fed them various substances to gauge their improvement. He discovered that ingesting large amounts of liver seemed to restore anaemia more quickly of all foods. Minot and Whipple then set about to chemically isolate the curative substance. These investigations showed that iron in the liver was responsible for curing anaemia from bleeding, but meanwhile, liver had been tried on people with pernicious anaemia and some effect as seen there, also. The active ingredient, in this case, found serendipitously, was not iron, but rather a water-soluble extract containing a new substance. From this extract, chemists ultimately were able to isolate vitamin B12 from the liver. Even before the vitamin had been completely characterised, the knowledge that raw liver and its extracts treated pernicious anaemia (previously a terminal disease) was a major advance in medicine. Murphy married Pearl Harriett Adams on September 10, 1919. They had a son, Dr William P. Murphy Jr., and a daughter, Priscilla Adams.
Max Ferdinand Perutz, OM, CH, CBE, FRS died on this date in 2002. He was an Austrian-born British molecular biologist, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with John Kendrew, for their studies of the structures of haemoglobin and myoglobin. He went on to win the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1971 and the Copley Medal in 1979. At Cambridge, he founded and chaired (1962–79) The Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, fourteen of whose scientists have won Nobel Prizes. Perutz’s contributions to molecular biology in Cambridge are documented in The History of the University of Cambridge: Volume 4 (1870 to 1990) published by the Cambridge University Press in 1992.