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Mary Somerville

(1780-1872), Scientific scholar and writer

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter in 5 portraits
Born to parents who did not believe in education for daughters; Somerville was principally self-taught. Her first husband, Samuel Greig, was hostile to her intellectualism. After his death she went on to study mathematics and was encouraged in her studies by her second husband, the surgeon William Somerville, whom she married in 1812. Her paper on the violet rays of the solar spectrum (1826) and her edition of Laplace's La mécanique céleste brought her much acclaim and she was elected as an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society. Major works in the fields of mathematics and science followed including, the immensely successful On the Connection of the Physical Sciences (1834).

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Mary Somerville, by Pierre-Jean David D'Angers - NPG 5379

Mary Somerville

by Pierre-Jean David D'Angers
bronze medallion, 1833
NPG 5379

Mary Somerville, by Mary Dawson Turner (née Palgrave), printed by  Graf & Soret, after  Thomas Phillips - NPG D9101

Mary Somerville

by Mary Dawson Turner (née Palgrave), printed by Graf & Soret, after Thomas Phillips
lithograph, 1830s
NPG D9101

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