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Mary Anning (1799–1847) of Lyme; ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew’

  • Hugh Torrens (a1)
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      Mary Anning (1799–1847) of Lyme; ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew’
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      Mary Anning (1799–1847) of Lyme; ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew’
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1 Washburn W. E., ‘Manuscripts and manufacts’, American Archivist (1964), 27, 245–50, on 247.

2 The Dictionary of National Biography, 22 vols., London, 18851900.

3 The British Museum General Catalogue of Printed Books, 263 vols., London, 19651966, v, 774.

4 Matthew C., ‘The New Dictionary of National Biography’, History Today (1993), 43, 1013, on 12.

5 Her only publication was an extract of a letter to E. Charlesworth which he then published, in his Magazine of Natural History (1839), new series 3, 605.

6 Forde H. A., The Heroine of Lyme Regis – The Story of Mary Anning, the Celebrated Geologist, London: Wells Gardner, Darton and Co. Ltd, [1925].

7 The National Union Catalog pre-1956 Imprints, 754 vols., London, 19681981.

8 This annotation is on an undated letter from Mary Anning to one of the Misses Philpot of Lyme, in the collections of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.

9 Details will hopefully appear in my forthcoming biography.

10 Torrens H. S., ‘Mary Anning's ancestry’, Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries (1981), 34, 341.

11 Public Record Office, London, RG 4/462.

12 Preserved in the Dorset County Record Office, Dorchester.

13 Bath Chronicle, 27 12 1798, 3.

14 Lang W. D., ‘Mary Anning's escape from lightning’, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (1959), 80, 91–3.

15 Roberts G., The History of Lyme-Regis, Sherborne, 1823, 128.

16 Cunnington MSS at Wiltshire Archaeological Society Library, Devizes.

17 Howe S. R., Sharpe T. and Torrens H. S., Ichthyosaurs: A History of Fossil ‘Sea-dragons’, Cardiff, 1981, 12.

18 SirHome E., ‘Some account of the fossil remains of an animal…’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (1814), 104, 571–7 and plates 17–20.

19 Howe et al. , op. cit. (17), 9.

20 Brooks J., ‘Remarks on fossil remains’, The Medical and Physical Journal (1811), 25, 97101 and plate.

21 Adam K. D., ‘Ichthyosaurier aus dem schwäbischen Jura. Ein Beitrag zur Forschungsgeschichte’, in Das Naturkundemuseum braucht unsere Hilfe. Katalog zur Ausstellung in der Girokasse… Stuttgart, 8 Februar bis 5 März 1971, Stuttgart, 1971, 1216.

22 Dorset County Record Office, PE/LR OV 6.

23 Alexander E. P., ‘William Bullock: little-remembered museologist and showman’, Curator (1985), 28, 117–47.

24 Sale Catalogue of the Bullock Museum 1819, facsimile reprint, London: Harmer Johnson and John Hewett, 1979, ninth day, 63, lot 100*.

25 Edmonds J. M., ‘The fossil collection of the Misses Philpot of Lyme Regis’, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (1978), 98, 4353.

26 Koenig C., Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum, 11th edn, London, 1817, 54.

27 Torrens H. S., ‘Colonel Birch (c. 1768–1829)’, Newsletter of the Geological Curators Group (1979), 2, 405–12 and The Geological Curator (1980), 2, 561–2.

28 Roberts G., The History and Antiquities of the Borough of Lyme Regis, London, 1834, 290.

29 Mantell MSS, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

30 A Catalogue of… Organised Fossils… the Genuine Property of Colonel Birch, which will be Sold by Auction by Mr Bullock 15 May 1820, London, 1820. The Anning family copy, signed ‘Joseph Anning May 12 1820’, is in the Palaeontology Library, Natural History Museum, London.

31 Like the letter wrongly dated 20 July 1820 by Sarjeant W. A. S. and Delair J. B., ‘An Irish naturalist in Cuvier's laboratory. The letters of Joseph Pentland 1820–1832’. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Historical Series (1980), 6, 245319, especially 257–61. The correct date is 1821, after the Birch sale.

32 Torrens , op. cit. (27), 407.

33 British Library, Add MSS 36520.

34 Cambridge University Library, Sedgwick Museum archives; see Price D., ‘Mary Anning specimens in the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge’, The Geological Curator (1986), 4, 319–24.

35 De la Beche H. and Conybeare W. D., ‘Notice of the discovery of a new fossil animal…’, Transactions of the Geological Society of London (1821), 5, 559–94 and plates 40–2.

36 British Museum archives, letter bound in C 1467 but wrongly dated 1820.

37 Rolfe W. D. I., Milner A. C. and Hay F. G., ‘The price of fossils’, Special Papers in Palaeontology (1988), 40, 139–71, on 149.

38 Bristol Mirror, 11 01 1823, 4.

39 Taylor M. A. and Torrens H. S., ‘Saleswoman to a new science’, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (1987), 108, 135–48, on 139, and Taylor M. A., ‘The plesiosaur's birthplace’, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society (1994), 112, 179–96.

40 Western Flying Post, 15 12 1823.

41 Conybeare W., ‘On the discovery of an almost perfect skeleton of the Plesiosaurus’, Transactions of the Geological Society of London (1824), 1, 381–9 and plates 48–9.

42 Buckland W., ‘Notice on the Megalosaurus or great fossil lizard of Stonesfield’, Transactions of the Geological Society of London (1824), 1, 390–6 and plates 40–4.

43 Taylor and Torrens , op. cit. (39), 143.

44 Buckland W., Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, 2 vols., London, 1836, i, 202.

45 Rudwick M. J. S., The Great Devonian Controversy, Chicago, 1985, 425, claims that ‘Mary's finds were accepted without question’ but this was clearly true only after 1824.

46 Notebook of Thomas Allan, ‘Travels in England 1813–1824’, Palaeontology Library, Natural History Museum, London.

47 Murray J., ‘The late Miss Mary Anning’, Mining Journal, 11 12 1847, 591.

48 Welch E., ‘Lady Silvester's tour through Devonshire in 1824’, Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries (1967), 30, 313 and (1973), 32, 265–6.

49 E.B. and Berkeley D. S., George William Featherstonhaugh, the First US Government Geologist, Tuscaloosa, 1988, 66.

50 Buckland W., ‘Fossil sepia’, London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine (1829), 5, 388.

51 Buckland , op. cit. (44), ii, plate 44″, fig. 1.

52 See Purcell R. W. and Gould S. J., Finders, Keepers: Eight Collectors. With Photographs by Rosamond W. Purcell, Text by Stephen J. Gould, London, 1992, 103, fig. 72.

53 Rupke N. A., The Great Chain of History, Oxford, 1983, 142.

54 Berkeley and Berkeley , op. cit. (49), 82–3.

55 Buckland W., ‘On the discovery of coprolites, or fossil faeces in the lias at Lyme Regis…’, Transactions of the Geological Society of London (1829), 2nd series 3, 223–36, on 229.

56 Buckland W., ‘On the discovery of a new species of pterodactyle in the lias at Lyme Regis’, Transactions of the Geological Society of London (1829), 2nd series 3, 217–22.

57 Fowles J., in Lyme Regis Museum Curator's Report for 1983, Lyme, 1984, 27.

58 Bickley F., Where Dorset Meets Devon, London, 1911, 55.

59 Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, 7 05 1829, 3.

60 Bath and Cheltenham Gazette, 28 04 1829, 3, and Buckland to Featherstonhaugh 23 03 1829, Sedgwick MSS, Cambridge University Library, Add 7652 II LL 21 C.

61 The supposed ‘first stirrings of the movement to retain objects where they are found’, claimed for the Melbourne meteorites in the 1860s, by Lucas A. M. et al. , ‘Colonial pride and metropolitan expectations’, BJHS (1994), 27, 6587, on 82, are thirty years later than this thrust from Lyme Regis.

62 Owen MSS, Natural History Museum, London, OC 62.1/153–4.

63 Taylor and Torrens , op. cit. (39).

64 A Catalogue of the Celebrated and Extensive Collection of Fossils, Minerals, &c the Genuine Property of James Johnson Esq…, Bristol, 1845, 17 (lot 364).

65 Lyell Charles to Mantell Gideon, 13 05 1830, Mantell MSS, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

66 Rudwick M. J. S., Scenes from Deep Time, Chicago, 1992.

67 Owen R., ‘A description of a specimen of the Plesiosaurus macrocephalus, Conybeare in the collection of Viscount Cole’, Transactions of the Geological Society of London (1840), 2nd series 5, 515–35 and plates 43–5.

68 Curwen E. C. (ed.), The Journal of Gideon Mantell… 1818–1852, London, 1940, 108.

69 Aurousseau M. (ed.), The Letters of F. W. Ludwig Leichhardt, 3 vols., Cambridge, 1968, i, 232.

70 Carus C. G., The King of Saxony's Journey through England and Scotland in the year 1844, London, 1844, 197.

71 Natural History Museum, London, Reg. nos. 14398–40.

72 [G. Roberts 1847] ‘A brief memoir of Miss Mary Anning, the celebrated fossilist’. Eyles MSS, Bristol University Library.

73 Roberts , op. cit. (28), copy annotated by the author and preserved in Lyme Regis Museum, opposite 290.

74 Letter from Buckland W. to SirTrevelyan Walter, 10 10 [1846], British Library, Add MSS 31026/247.

75 Minutes of the Council of the Dorset County Museum, 2 July 1846, Dorchester.

76 Roberts , op. cit. (15), 128.

77 Fowles J., A Short History of Lyme Regis, Wimborne, 1991, 5.

78 Roberts , op. cit. (28), 290.

79 De la Beche H., Obituary notices, Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London (1848), 4, pp. xxivxxv.

80 As the De la Beche archive in the National Museum in Cardiff reveals.

81 Lang W. D., ‘Mary Anning, of Lyme, collector and vendor of fossils, 1799–1847’, Natural History Magazine (1936), 5, 6481, on 80.

82 Roberts , op. cit. (28), opposite 290.

83 The Times, 6 02 1939, 13.

84 Roberts G., ‘The fossil-finder of Lyme Regis’, Chambers Journal of Popular Literature (1857), 7, 382–4.

85 Anon. [?Dickens C.], ‘Mary Anning, the fossil-finder’, All the Year Round (1865), 13, 60–3.

86 Dorset County Record Office, PPR/CW 1858 160/120.

87 Brown H. R., The Beauties of Lyme Regis, Lyme Regis, 1857, 30.

88 DNB, supplement, 1901, xxii, 51–2.

89 Sherborn C. D., ‘Bernard Barham Woodward 1853–1930’, Naturalist, 1 12 1930, 437–8.

90 Natural History Museum, London, Reg. no. 2003.

91 Burke's Landed Centry, 18th edn, 3 vols., London, 1972, iii, 236.

92 Darton F. J. H., The Marches of Wessex, London, 1922.

93 Darton F. J. H., Children's Books in England, Cambridge, 1932.

94 Wells Gardner, Darton and Co.'s catalogue, bound into Avery H., With Wellington at Waterloo, 1907, notes that H. A. Forde was already dead.

95 The Times, 13 08 1896, 1.

96 Forde F., Parentalia: Reminiscences of… fforde of fforde Grene etc, London, 1878 (copy in Boston Public Library, USA).

97 The Times, 30 07 1928, 1.

98 A pedigree of the Forde family appears in Ormerod G., The History of the County… of Cheshire, 2nd edn, 3 vols., London, 1882, iii, 101–2.

99 Lang W. D., ‘Mary Anning (1799–1847) and the pioneer geologists of Lyme’, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (1939), 60, 142–64, on 144.

100 Watney M., The Morning Post, 4 02 1931, 8.

101 Anon., The Sunday Companion, 1 08 1931.

102 Mee A. (ed.), Children's Encyclopaedia London, 1925, iii, 1509 and [1953], iii, 1509. By 1946 Mee's biographer, John Hammerton, estimated that 52 million volumes of the Children's Encyclopaedia had been sold; see Pound R. and Harmsworth G., Northcliffe, London, 1959, 295. It is better known in the United States as The Book of Knowledge and has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Chinese (see DNB 1941–50, 584–5, sub Mee).

103 White E. I., ‘William Dickson Lang’, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (1966), 12, 367–86.

104 Lang W. D., ‘Mary Anning and a very small boy’, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (1963), 84, 181–2.

105 Hawkes J., A Land, London, 1951, 59.

106 Hawkes J., Man on Earth, London, 1954, 63.

107 Andrews R. C.All about Dinosaurs, London, 1959, 17.

108 Bush H. B., Treasures in the Rock, Toronto, 1960.

109 Bush H. B., Mary Anning's Treasures, New York, 1966.

110 Bush H. B., Mary Anning's Treasures, London, 1967.

111 Bush H. B., Mary Anning's Treasures, London: Puffin Books, 1976.

112 Copy in Lyme Regis Museum.

113 Tully J., The Crocodile, London, 1972.

114 Natural History Museum, London, no. Reg 1158, see Delair J. B., ‘A history of the early discoveries of liassic ichthyosaurs in Dorset and Somerset (1779–1835)’, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (1969), 90, 115–27, on 121.

115 van N. Blair R., Mary's Monster, New York, 1975.

116 Gordon E. O., The Life and Correspondence of William Buckland, London, 1894, 7.

117 Fradin D. B., Remarkable Children – Twenty who made History, Boston, 1987.

118 Day M., Dragon in the Rocks, Toronto and Buffalo, 1991.

119 Cole S., Dragon in the Cliff, New York, 1991.

120 Fowles J., in Lyme Regis Museum Curator's Report for 1991, Lyme Regis, 1992, 31.

121 Fowles , op. cit. (77), 41, and see his ‘Introduction’ to a forthcoming pamphlet on Mary Aiming by Sir Crispin Tickell (a direct descendant of Mary's brother Joseph), to be published in 1995 by Lyme Regis Museum.

122 See Sharpe J., ‘History from below’, in New Perspectives on Historical Writing (ed. Burke P.), Cambridge, 1991, 2441, on 36.

123 Washburn , op. cit. (1).

124 Taylor and Torrens , op. cit. (39), 143.

125 Nicolson N., ‘Tricks of the memory’, The Spectator, 12 03 1994, 41–2

126 Norman J. R., Squire: Memories of Charles Davies Sherborn, London, 1944, 65 and 88, and Gruber J. W., ‘The Richard Owen correspondence: an introductory essay’, in Gruber J. W. and Thackray J. C., Richard Owen Commemoration, London, 1992, 193, especially 16.

127 Gruber and Thackray , op. cit. (126), ‘A catalogue of the correspondence… of Richard Owen’. This notes two items of correspondence and three other Anning MSS in this archive, on 107, 114 and 141.

128 Sheets-Pyenson S., ‘Geological communication in the nineteenth century’, Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Historical Series (1982), 10, 179226, on 200.

129 Professor G. M. Friedman collection, Troy, USA.

130 Dorset County Museum, NHMS XXXVII/2.

131 Barber L., The Heyday of Natural History, New York, 1980, 127.

132 Taylor and Torrens , op. cit. (39).

133 Gould , op. cit. (52), 100.

134 Standing Committee Minutes of the British Museum, C 5494, 14 November 1840, British Museum archives.

135 Torrens H. S. and Cooper J. A., ‘George Fleming Richardson (1796–1848) – man of letters, lecturer and geological curator’, Geological Curator (1986), 4, 249–72, on 256, and Hewitt R. A., ‘London clay nautiloid collections’, ibid. (1995), 6, 117–24, on 119.

136 Natural History Museum archives, NS: Additions, Geology, 12001–16000, 75.

137 Simpson G. G., Concession to the Improbable, New Haven, CT, 1978, 44–5.

138 Spamer E. E. et al. , ‘Recovery of the Etheldred Benett collection of fossils…’, Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (1989), 141, 115–80, on 118.

139 No references appear in the Society's MSS books and there is no reference either in Moore D. T., Thackray J. C. and Morgan D. L., ‘A short history of the museum of the Geological Society of London 1807–1911…’, Bulletin of the British Museum of Natural History, Historical Series (1991), 19, 51160.

140 Price op. cit. (34).

141 Taylor , op. cit. (39).

142 Taylor and Torrens , op. cit. (39).

143 Murchison R. I., ‘Presidential address’, Proceedings of the Geological Society of London (1832), 1, 362–86, on 385–6.

144 In experimental science, the instrument makers and technicians are as important as the scientists but only more recently has the history of instrumentation become an object for serious study, see Shapin S., ‘Le technicien invisible’, La Recherche (1991), 22, 324–33.

145 See Murray , op. cit. (47). Another such ‘hunter’, Alfred Jaeger (1860–1909), ‘Nimrod’ of Elgar's Enigma Variations, can remind us of such relationships in music. Here composition and performance are both vital, are equally regarded and have been equally recorded in history. See his comments in Moore J. N. (ed.), Elgar and his Publishers, 2 vols., Oxford, 1987, ii, 715.

146 Fowles J., The French Lieutenant's Woman, London, 1969, 53.

147 In 1878 R. F. Tomes (1823–1904) apparently named his new liassic coral genus and species Tricycloseris anningi, from Charmouth, after her (Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London (1878), 34, 189–90 and plate 9, fig. 1). In 1936 L. R. Cox (1897–1965) named the bivalve genus Anningia after her (Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London (1936), 92, 468 and plate 34, fig. 9–10), but this had to be renamed Anningella in 1958 because of homonymy (see Proceedings of the Geological Society of London (1958), 1557, 44). The ostracod species, Cytherelloidea anningi, has been named since 1969, by Lord Alan, ‘Ostracods from the Domerian and Toarcian of England’, Palaeontology (1974), 17, 599622 and plate 90, especially 610–13 and figs. 4–5.

148 Broom R., ‘On a new type of mammal-like reptile from the South African Karroo Beds (Anningia megalops)’, Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1928), for 1927, 227–32.

149 Broom R., The Mammal-Like Reptiles of South Africa, London, 1932, ch. 2.

150 Colbert E. H., Digging into the Past, New York, 1989, 191–2. Today Anningia entirely fails to honour its dedicatee, see Reisz R. R. and Dilkes D. W., ‘The taxonomic position of Anningia megalops,…’, Canadian Journal of Earth Science (1992), 29, 1605–8.

151 Cumberland G., ‘Some account of the order in which the fossil saurians were discovered’, Quarterly Journal of Literature, Science and the Arts (1829), 27, 345–9, on 348.

152 Först H. J., ‘Material culture research and the curation process’, in Museum Studies in Material Culture (ed. Pearce S. M.), Leicester, 1989, 97110, on 106.

153 Jones S., in Journal of the History of Collections (1990), 2, 87–8.

154 Washburn , op. cit. (1), 249.

155 See also New Scientist (30 01 1993), 137 (1858), 10.

156 I am glad to report that, as a result of recent publicity, attitudes have started to change and Mary Anning's achievements are now properly announced to visitors in the Museum's wonderful marine reptile gallery.

157 Greene M. T., ‘History of geology’, Osiris (1985), 1, 97116, for example, provides a summary of only printed sources for the history of geology and concludes that the history of geology is at such a premature stage that ‘it is as yet too early to go to the archives’. The possibility of other sources was not considered.

158 Schaef A. W., Meditations for Women who do too much (1990), San Francisco, entry for 2 May.

159 Henry De la Beche's Duria antiquior.

160 Kenyon J., Poems: For the Most Part Occasional, London, 1838, 109–11.

161 Hawkes , op. cit. (105).

162 Fowles , op. cit. (146).

163 Angharad Wynne-Jones' ‘Mary Anning – a natural history’, danced at the Chisenhale Dance Space, London, 3 July 1987.

164 Creese M. R. S. and Creese T. M., ‘British women who contributed to research in the geological sciences in the nineteenth century’, BJHS (1994), 27, 2354, on 27–8.

165 Ackroyd Peter, ‘Review of Hardy by Martin Seymour-Smith’, The Times, 20 01 1994, 41, and see also 7 and 19.

166 Mount F., ‘A little less learning’, Daily Telegraph, 11 12 1993.

167 Charlesworth K., New Scientist (3 12 1988), 120 (1641), 60 and reproduced with kind permission.

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