Queen of Science

Personal Recollections of Mary Somerville
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Author(s): Mary Somerville
Original Publish Date: Jul 01, 2010
Product Number: EB00809503
Released: Feb 17, 2020
Business Term: Purchase
ISBN: #9781847674654
Publisher: Canongate Books
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Description

The complete memoirs of the 19th century scientist, public intellectual, and first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society. Born in Jedburgh in 1780, Mary Fairfax was the daughter of a captain in Lord Nelson's navy. In common with most girls of her time and station, she received an education that prized gentility over ability. Nevertheless, she taught herself algebra in secret, and made her reputation in celestial mechanics with her 1831 translation of Laplace's Mecanique celeste as The Mechanism of the Heavens. A brilliant polymath with interests in art, literature and nature, Somerville's memoirs give a fascinating picture of her life and times from childhood in Burntisland to international recognition and retirement in Naples. She recounts memories of comets and eclipses, high society in London and Paris, Charles Babbage and his calculating engine, encounters with Sir Walter Scott and Fenimore Cooper, the Risorgimento in Italy and the eruption of Vesuvius. Selected by her daughter and first published in 1973, these are the memoirs of a remarkable woman who became one of the nineteenth century's most accomplished mathematicians and scientists. Oxford's Somerville College was named after her, and the present volume, re-edited by Dorothy McMillan, draws on manuscripts owned by the college, offering the first unexpurgated edition of these revelatory writings.

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