In the early part of the nineteenth century a lone figure could often be seen walking along the shoreline at Lyme Regis. This was Mary Anning searching for fossils, and in Jurassic Mary: Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters
, Patricia Pierce tells her story. Although she was often seen as eccentric, Mary Anning in fact found a substantial proportion of the fossils that were put on display in this period, and in particular some of the large reptiles which advanced the study of paleontology. But, despite Anning's extensive knowledge of the subject, the credit for the discoveries generally went to those learned gentlemen who bought the specimens from her.
Pierce often makes the point that Anning was hard done by in this respect, but I felt that the book could have done with a more in depth discussion of this point. Was it that Anning was a working class woman, or did people feel that paying for a specimen gave them the right to credit? In fact the book does seem to lack a central thread, tending to jump around from one encounter to another. But it's easy to read and it does have plenty of information about Mary Anning's life and the consequences of her finds. If you want to know how one woman's work had a crucial effect of the development of the science of paleontology then you'll find much of interest in this book.