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Mary Somerville (1780-1872)

A Scottish writer and polymath

Mary Somerville (26 December 1780 – 29 November 1872), was a Scottish writer and polymath.

She is the person for whom the word scientist was invented. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was admitted as one of the first female members of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

She campaigned for votes and education for women and said "Age has not abated my zeal for the emancipation of my sex from the unreasonable prejudice too prevalent in Great Britain against a literary and scientific education for women."

She wrote a number of influential and interdisciplinary science books and when she died in 1872 ‘The Morning Post’ declared “Whatever difficulty we might experience in the middle of the nineteenth century in choosing a king of science, there could be no  question whatever as to the queen of science.”

The unity shadowed forth in Mrs Somerville’s book is therefore a unity of the method of science, not a unity of the process of nature.

James Clerk Maxwell

Related links

Mary Somerville Wikipedia article