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Reeve, Eric Cyril Raynold (British geneticist) (1913-2011)



  • Existence: 1913 - 2011


Eric Cyril Raynold Reeve was born on 14 September 1913 in Liverpool. His father was a former Church of England missionary to Japan, who moved with his wife and five sons to several towns in England as he changed parishes, including Great Yarmouth, Hockering, and Lowestoft.

Eric attended the preparatory school in Lowestoft, and later boarded at the Norwich Grammar School in Cathedral Close. He received his university education at St Peter’s Hall, Oxford, where he initially studied mathematics before opting for zoology. He subsequently completed his doctorate, having won the Christopher Welch Research Scholarship, under the supervision of JZ Young. His research entailed the application of mathematical analysis to differences in growth and form amongst three genera of New World anteaters. His methods, their application, and his ultimate findings were seen as having made a pioneering contribution to the field. This analysis became a feature of his early research work.

Eric subsequently moved to the statistical department of Rothampstead Experimental Station, led by Frank Yates, where scientists were studying data relating to the yield of different crops on farms throughout England, with or without the application of various fertilisers. Eric would participate in a number of similar official research groups during and after the war, looking at such issues as the effects of German bombing on British factories and of American and British bombing on German factories, buildings, workers’ morale and marshalling yards.

It was during this time, in 1942, that Eric met and married Edith Simon (1917-2003), the writer and artist known for her historical novels and her signature papercut bas relief scalpel paintings.

Following the war, Eric joined the National Animal Breeding and Genetics Research Organisation, as it was first known, based in Edinburgh, under the leadership of C.H. Waddington. Here he studied British livestock production. Eric collaborated with colleagues on a series of joint papers on the effects of long-term selection, inbreeding and crossing strains, all of which had a bearing on the results of livestock and poultry breeding. These appeared as successive Studies in Quantitative Inheritance.

During this time, Eric and Edith first lived in Mortonhall House, subsequently moving to Roseberry Crescent, and Lansdowne Crescent, before settling permanently in Grosvenor Crescent. They had three children, Antonia (b.1950), Simon (b.1952), and Jessica (b.1954).

Eric subsequently began work in the realm of microbial genetics and became editor of a new genetics journal, Genetical Research, which he edited for 36 years. He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1975. Towards the end of his career Eric was invited to curate and edit the Encyclopaedia of Genetics, a 900-page undertaking which sought to present authoritative and accessible articles from leading geneticists.

Eric died on 14 December 2011 in Edinburgh.

This is an abridged biography, taken from Dr. Eric Reeve’s obituary, published in The Scotsman, 22 February 2012.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Family ephemera, papers, and photographs of Eric Reeve and Edith Simon, 1914-2008

Identifier: Acc.13772/290-325
Scope and Contents This series contains personal family ephemera including holiday cards, drawings, children's papers, household expenses records, address books, news cuttings, and invitations.Files also appear relating specifically to the Mortonhall House Association Committee, in which Edith and Eric participated; and the Animal Breeding and Genetics Research Organisation Laboratory, Edinburgh, where Dr. Eric Reeve worked and taught.Sixteen boxes of unsorted photograph packets...
Dates: 1914-2008

Further professional and personal papers of Edith Simon and Dr Eric Reeve, including photographic and audiovisual materials.

Identifier: Acc.14390
Scope and Contents This collection contains additional papers relating to Edith Simon's career as an artist and writer, as well as some early juvenilia, embracing her illustration and creative writing. The collection also contains a series of papers relating to her husband, the noted geneticist, Dr. Eric Reeve, documenting his university studies at the University of Oxford, his subsequent war service, and his later career at the University of Edinburgh. The broad scope of the collection may be...
Dates: Circa 1925-2014.

Personal and professional papers of Edith Simon

Identifier: Acc.13772/1-325
Scope and Contents The papers of writer and artist Edith Simon relate to both strands of her artistic life, documenting her prolific output as an author of contemporary novels, historical novels, and histories, as well as a pioneering artist across multiple forms.The papers contain both personal and professional correspondence; notebooks, manuscript and typescript drafts, research material, and news cuttings concerning her writing career; alongside photographs, news cuttings, art diaries and...
Dates: Majority of material found within circa 1932-2008

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Ephemera. 2
Letters. Correspondence. 2
Manuscripts. 2
Photographic prints. 2
Press cuttings. Information artifacts. 2