When Erica Thomas died she left family films, photos, letters and objects dating back 100 years.
They revealed a life her children knew nothing of.
Born in Hungary in 1933, Erica came to England as a child.
Despite her private schooling and studies at Cambridge and Oxford she struggled to 'become English' and to belong.
Erica always felt an outsider but her career drew her to the dark heart of Cold War science.
She faced a world of compromise, fear and betrayal.
Increasingly, her psychological struggles reflected the trauma of world events.
Then Erica fell in love...
In September 2004 I was one of only four people who attended Erica’s funeral. No flowers, no eulogy, no music; only a respectful bow from the pallbearers as they laid her coffin. In silence, I thought of how most people’s lives are modest, lived in obscurity. Who would remember Erica?
Yet her life spanned 70 tumultuous years, journeying from Hungary to Britain, via America, Antarctica and outer space. Her life and work encompassed World War 2, the Cold War, end of Empire, Vietnam, eugenics and mind control.
As Erica was laid to rest I cried. In that moment I promised to remember her.