Mary Somerville

(1780—1872) science writer and mathematics expositor

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Mathematician and scientist. Born into genteel poverty in Scotland, Mary Fairfax married secondly her cosmopolitan medical cousin William Somerville (1812), leaving Edinburgh for London in 1816. She developed an interest in mathematics, and an informal apprenticeship under the foremost philosophers led to a long and distinguished career. Her books brought knowledge and clarity to a broad public. Mary Somerville was widely accepted as the leading scientific lady in Europe, and posthumously commemorated in the foundation of Somerville College, Oxford.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics — British History.

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