Early life and education
Sulston was born in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire, England to Arthur Edward Aubrey Sulston and Josephine Muriel Frearson, née Blocksidge. His father was an Anglican priest and administrator of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. His mother quit her job as an English teacher at Watford Grammar School, to care for him and his sister Madeleine. and home-tutored them until he was five. At age five he entered the local preparatory school, York House School, where he soon developed an aversion to games. He developed an early interest in science, having fun with dissecting animals and sectioning plants to observe their structure and function. Sulston won a scholarship to Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood and then to Pembroke College, Cambridge graduating in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Sciences (Chemistry). He joined the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, after being interviewed by Alexander Todd and was awarded his PhD in 1966 for research in nucleotide chemistry.