Reviews elsewhere on the web:
British Astronomical Association (pdf)

Allan Chapman

Mary Somerville and the world of science

Mary Somerville was an influential figure in nineteenth century science, but the story of her life isn't as well known as one might expect. In this book Allan Chapman helps to spread the word about this example of that peculiarly British phenomenon, the Grand Amateur in science. It isn't simply a biography, it also introduces the reader to what was happening in the scientific community at the time, and one appreciates Chapman's wide knowledge of the history of science. The books seems rather short, but Chapman manages to pack in a lot of information, in his own highly readable style.

As a woman Mary's options were severely limited - maybe we would have a Somerville's law if things had been otherwise, but Chapman points out the futility of 'What if?' As it was she played a very important part in encouraging the participation of women in science.

It is interesting to note that Mary's success, in particular as an author came later in life - she was over 50 when her first book was published and was still writing at 89

Chapman also looks at Mary's attitude to religion, showing how she could maintain a firm belief despite disagreeing with what many churchmen were saying

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 176 pages  
ISBN: 0953786846
Salesrank: 6663989
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 2004 Canopus Publishing Limited
Marketplace::Used from $90.94
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 176 pages  
ISBN: 0953786846
Salesrank: 260772
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 2004 Canopus Publishing Limited
Marketplace:New from £139.51:Used from £69.19
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 160 pages  
ISBN: 0953786846
Salesrank: 1883333
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 2004 Canopus Publishing Limited
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 228.86:Used from CDN$ 116.21
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Product Description
This book reviews the live of Scottish astronomer and polymath Mary Somerville (1780-1872). She was a pioneer feminist in science at a time when women were discouraged from entering this discipline. She was one of the first two women jointly inducted into the Royal Astronomy Society (Caroline Herschel was the other).