4 Scottish Trailblazers Who Changed the World
At a time when women had little to do with the study of science or mathematics, Mary Somerville took to both and did her best to teach others as well. She was the first female honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society (along with Caroline Herschel), and in 1834 she became the first person in the world to be described in print as a ‘scientist’. Mary had to fight hard to persist in her chosen career – her first husband thought such topics unsuited to women. Fortunately, her second husband was more enlightened and encouraged her to conduct experiments, write and publish textbooks which explained science, in meaningful terms, to the general public.
Mary Somerville’s books were described as “masterly” (ie. something a man could have written, and written well). I will tell you about her struggles and motivations. You will learn about her main works, the influence of her father and husband, her lifestyle, and circumstances. The talk is illustrated with photographs, paintings, and diagrams from her books – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen.
Mary Somerville was barred by statue from being made a Fellow of the Royal Society, but a bust of her was placed in the entrance hall. A ship was named for her, a college at the University of Oxford, poems were dedicated to her, and today her face is on a Scottish banknote. Discover more about this determined and courageous woman, who entered a sphere regarded as ‘unfeminine’ and left us all a lasting legacy.
“The life of a woman entirely devoted to her family duties and to scientific pursuits affords little scope for a biography. There are in it neither stirring events nor brilliant deeds to record…”
― Martha Somerville, Personal recollections, from early life to old age of Mary Somerville Chapter 1
This Zoom video is a real treat! Taken from a live-streamed presentation, it has been carefully recorded and completely edited to deliver the experience of being part of an audience and having the best seat in the house. It is about 50 minutes full of intriguing information about this Scottish Trailblazer and includes audience participation. Buy it now and receive a link to view your video immediately.
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Thanks for your lecture series on the 4 English trailblazers, I have now caught up with all four of them. Even though I had a fair bit of prior knowledge of all except Florence Nightingale, I enjoyed your lectures very much, there were so many lovely pictures and unexpected sidelights that I was very well entertained. You really brought out how these four brilliant misfits made a difference to English culture!
I would have loved to have taken part in the actual lectures, but 5 pm on a weekday does not work for me, unfortunately, so I was pleased to be able to catch the lectures later. I look forward to further lectures in the future.
I just wanted to thank you for your March Trailblazers series.
Such interesting and diverse lives and the discovery of all those quirky facts gave a full picture of the personalities behind the famous personas.
As the ladies say, “It’s not easy”. What an understatement!
Great series Susannah – I loved the variety of trailblazers, the wonderful slides and I learned so much.
Just a quickie to say how successful (I’m sure), but how interesting and entertaining your four talks on Scottish writers have been. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every Monday afternoon.
Yesterday’s was particularly interesting on Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I have admired his furniture for ages and came to realise how similar his drawings were to Klimpf (as you mentioned) who I have come to know about since a visit to Budapest a few years ago. Isn’t it a shame that these geniuses are not appreciated more in their lifetimes? They have brave fresh ways of looking at the mundane and are not afraid of being less popular, and poorer for it.
I wanted to say thank you yet again for another wonderful lecture series – loved the Scottish trailblazers! Being married to a Scot and having lived over there for 5.5 years, I grew to know about all these trailblazers except for Mary Somerville.
We are great fans of CR Mackintosh – even my husband watched your lecture last night!!
I look forward to more trailblazers as you develop them.