Charles B. Huggins' speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, December 10, 1966
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Your
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I must express the profound gratitude of my family and myself for the distinction with which you honor us tonight. After the nightingales have sung the other birds should be still but it requires much restraint for a Laureate, even one 3 hours old, to be silent on any subject.
Book 2 of the Iliad is the catalog of the ships. The present remarks must be considered the catalog of the debts - indebtedness to all who facilitated my work. No adjectives in any language come to mind which are sufficiently superlative to describe the unsurpassable hospitality of the Swedish nation.
First in my thoughts on this happy occasion is gratitude to my wife who has endured much as a Science-Widow. She did not interfere with the self-discipline which is necessary to create and which is lit by the passion for discovery. It is possible that the wife of a lab worker is never quite sure whether she or Science comes first in her husband's affections.
Secondly, is gratitude to the wonderful colleagues "with satchel and shining morning face." They keep the pot stirred. There is plenty of emotion in our business of discovery which is bred in the heart and in the head. Inevitably one develops affection for all of the colleagues united in the common purpose.
Thirdly, there is gratitude for the wonderful advantage I have enjoyed of a medical education. The doctor is blessed above all men in possessing the right and privilege to care for sick folks. The University provided me with a clinic where one could minister unto the cancer patients for whom little could be done.
It is awesome. It is inspiring. It is terrible. It is wonderful. The agony of cancer was expressed by Sir Thomas Browne: "The long habit of living makes mere men the more hardly to part with life and all to be nothing but what is to come."
A cancer worker utters the mariner's prayer: "Oh, Lord, Thy sea is so vast and my bark is so small."
Yet, a start has been made. Something emerges which has content and meaning for the people. Of less importance, but pleasing too, is the thought that our feeble efforts have gained the approval of fellow workers in the same field who also enjoy the opportunity to work 7 days each week on our common problem. By means of the early morning call they invited me to Scandinavia for 10 December 1966. Tusen tack för allt.
From Les Prix Nobel en 1966, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1967
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1966
"for his discovery of human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer"
"for their discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes"
"for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell"