Why is Our Unicorn Named “Hodge”?


Our unicorn Hodge is named after a famous scientist, Dorothy Hodgkin, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964. The Nobel chemistry prize is a very prestigious award that is given out annually to scientists who make outstanding contributions to the field. Dorothy Hodgkin earned hers for her work on the structure of vitamin B12, which our bodies need for us to be healthy. It’s found in foods like chicken, liver, eggs, and milk.

Dorothy's Childhood

Dorothy was English, but she was born in Egypt in 1910 and lived there for part of her childhood while her parents worked. (Her father was an archaeologist and historian, and her mother was a botanist and an expert on ancient weaving). When World War I started in 1914, Dorothy and her sisters had to live with relatives in England. Her parents were afraid that England’s colonies overseas would be attacked, and they wanted their daughters to be safe.

Dorothy's Attic Laboratory

Dorothy was only about ten years old when she became interested in chemistry. She was encouraged in this by a friend of her parents, her “Uncle Joseph.” He was a chemist who gave her a chemistry kit when he saw how interested she was in the subject. Dorothy set up a laboratory in the attic of her house in England, and she taught her sisters about chemistry when they were all under quarantine for the mumps. Dorothy’s mother supported her lab work. She bought Dorothy books about chemistry and had her write poems about her experiments. She didn’t even get upset when Dorothy ruined a fancy new dress by spilling nitric acid on it after church one Sunday.

A Girl Studying a "Boys' Subject"

Dorothy also studied chemistry in school when she was about twelve. This was a little bit unusual, because at the time chemistry and other sciences were considered boys’ subjects. Dorothy and a friend of hers named Norah had to convince their teachers that they could handle the subject despite being girls, and they were allowed to join the boys in class. Surprisingly, given her bright future, Dorothy was not the top student in the class. She was ninth in a class of fourteen students. But that just goes to show you that grades aren’t everything. Hard work, perseverance, and curiosity count for a lot.

Oxford, Cambridge, and Beyond

Dorothy went on to study chemistry at the University of Oxford and then at the University of Cambridge. In 1936 she was appointed as Oxford’s first fellow and tutor in chemistry. (One of her early students at Oxford was Margaret Thatcher, who would go on to be the Prime Minister of Great Britain!)

Dorothy Hodgkin had a long and successful career doing work she loved. She made brilliant discoveries and was ultimately awarded the Nobel Prize for her accomplishments. But it all started when she was a little girl and became fascinated by chemicals….

Are you interested in science too?




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