Scope and Contents
Personal and scientific papers including correspondence, research and laboratory notebooks, draft publications and journal articles, newspaper clippings, photographs, videos and film.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is mostly open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Some files are closed for data protection reasons, and these closures are marked in the catalogue.
Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.
Biographical / Historical
Robert Edwards was born on the 27 September 1925, the son of Samuel and Margaret Edwards. He was educated at Manchester Central High School, the University of Wales, Bangor (1948-51) and the University of Edinburgh (1951-55). In 1956, he married Ruth Eileen Fowler, they had five daughters.
Edwards was a research scientist at the University of Edinburgh (1955-1957), the California Institute of Technology (1957-1958), the National Institute of Medical Research, Mill Hill, London (1958-62), Glasgow University (1962-63), and in the Physiology Department at the University of Cambridge (1963-89). He was Professor of Human Reproduction at the University of Cambridge (1985-1989).
Edwards was a Fellow of Churchill College Cambridge from 1979, and a Senior Member from 1974.
Alongside Patrick Steptoe and Jean Purdy, Edwards carried out clinical research that led to the success of in vitro fertilisation to treat infertility in 1978. The three established Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge in 1980, where Edwards was Scientific Director until 1991.
Edwards edited Research in Reproduction journal (1969-1990) published by the International Planned Parenthood Federation; established the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) with Jean Cohen in 1984 and became the society’s first chairman; and edited ESHRE’s journals - Human Reproduction (1985), Human Reproduction Update (1996), and Molecular Human Reproduction (1996). In 2000 Edwards resigned from ESHRE and established Reproductive BioMedicine Online journal.
Robert Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010 for the development of in vitro fertilisation. He was knighted in 2011.
Publications include: 'A Matter of Life' (with P. C. Steptoe), 1980; 'Conception in the Human Female' 1980; 'Mechanisms of Sex Differentiation in Animals and Man' (with C. R. Austin), 1981; 'Human Conception in Vitro' (with J. M. Purdy), 1982; 'Implantation of the Human Embryo' (with J. M. Purdy and P. C. Steptoe), 1985; 'In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer' (with M. Seppälä), 1985; 'Life Before Birth' 1989; and 'Modern Assisted Conception' (edited with Francisco Risquez), 2003.