Samantha Weinberg in More Intelligent Life:

McLarenThe first time I met Anne McLaren, I was quite daunted. I knew she was a genius and I was in my very early days as a scientist. I went to see her with a problem: I couldn’t get my eggs to fertilise. She was then at University College London. She looked at me rather quizzically and said: “When my mouse embryos don’t grow, I think it’s something to do with sun spots.” And then she laughed. Anne was born in London and read zoology at Oxford, where she got her PhD before moving to UCL in 1952. It was there that she started work on mouse genetics with Donald Michie. They married the same year and went on to have three children before divorcing seven years later. She brought up the children as a single mother and always campaigned for government help with child care. She and Michie remained friends, though, and got back together when they were both in their 70s. They died together, in a car accident on the M11 on the way back from Cambridge in 2007. It was a tragedy—she was still in full possession of her faculties, still full of life.

She was a remarkable woman and a brilliant scientist. Anne’s work became very important to mine: in my view she was more important in the development of IVF than Robert Edwards, who won the Nobel prize for his work on IVF. But she doesn’t get the plaudits she deserves. She wasn’t a doctor, she didn’t treat humans, and she wouldn’t have said that IVF was her key subject; she was an embryologist who was interested in how fertilisation worked. But she developed many of the techniques now used in human IVF by working on mice—which is very difficult. She discovered how to fertilise an embryo and transfer it back into the animal, and how to cut an embryo in half to make twins. It was highly significant—her long record of published papers and books is testament to the importance of her work.

More here.