Sir John Maddox (right), editor of Nature for almost 23 years before his retirement in 1996, was last week elected the first honorary fellow of Britain's Royal Society in London.

The position was introduced three years ago, and is intended to recognize individuals “who have rendered signal service to the cause of science, or whose election would significantly benefit the society by their great experience in other walks of life”.

Maddox, a theoretical physicist by training, said on Monday that he was “delighted” at his election. “One can ask, is this gamekeeper turned poacher, or poacher turned gamekeeper?” he quipped.