Sir John Maddox, Nature editor for 22 years, died yesterday in Wales at the age of 83. He died from cumulative heart and lung problems that followed a broken hip, said his daughter, Bronwen Maddox, who writes for the Times of London. Maddox is credited with breathing new life into Nature; when he first arrived as editor in 1966, he did away with the editorial “we,” had an expeditious reviewing system set up, and oversaw the creation of a style manual, all steps that transformed the journal into the respected and reliable source for science news that it remains today.
In a long and varied career, Maddox worked as a science journalist at the Manchester Guardian (now simply the Guardian) and as a lecturer in physics at the University of Manchester. But his editorship of Nature (1966–1973, 1980–1995) “was what feels like his life,” [Bronwen] Maddox says [Scientific American]. He was also a trained physicist, who has served on a number of Royal Commissions on environmental pollution and genetic manipulation [Edge].
Maddox was a respected scientist and journalist who had a significant and widely acknowledged impact on the science community at large: he was one of those fellows who shaped the direction of science for quite a long period of time with the power of one of the most influential science journals in the world [ScienceBlogs: Pharyngula].
Maddox was knighted in 1995 and was named an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society in 2000. He is survived by his wife, the biographer and journalist Brenda Maddox, four children and two grandchildren [Scientific American]. Maddox’s son Bruno is a contributing editor of DISCOVER.