Charles Percy Snow was born on October 5 1905 in England, into the middleclass of the times and like so many others in his situation he used both schools and public libraries in his never-ending struggle for social climbing. At first he began a career in science. His thesis on vitamin a was flunked for being unscientific, so instead he opted for a career as an author. In this latter career he was mostly self-taught. During World War II his real talent comes through, as an administrator in the English Army.
On the evening of May 7 1959, in Cambridge, he gives his most, or only, famous lecture. It is a Reade memorial lecture and he has titled it "The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution". It is published shortly afterwards. This book becomes the center of his later career as an advisor and lecturer on schooling and science in general during the 1960:s and into the 1970:s. He dies in 1980.
C P Snow was a great believer in science, he thought it was the only way to end war and injustice. He was also a strong supporter of meritocracy - that those who know should rule those who don't. His greatest hero seems to have been H G Wells, whom Snow saw as a progressive, modern and anti-literary author.
The lasting impact of Snow is the phrase "two cultures" used to describe the differences between Science and Culture. Most people using the term have not read Snow, and do not share his point of view. Snows lecture is short, full of empty rhetoric figures and not a very good description of the many cultures living side by side today.