Skip to content

All SAP systems will be unavailable on Saturday 10th December 2022 from 0800-1800 UK Time.

If you can’t place an order, please contact Customer Services to complete your order.

UK/ROW +44 (0) 1223 326050 | US 1 800 872 7423 or 1 212 337 5000 | Australia/New Zealand 61 3 86711400 or 1800 005 210, New Zealand 0800 023 520

Register Sign in Wishlist
Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
Science, Illumination, and the Female Mind


Part of Cambridge Science Biographies

  • Date Published: December 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521626729

£ 23.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • In an era when science was perceived as a male domain, Mary Somerville (1780–1872) became both the leading woman scientist of her day and an integral part of the British scientific community. She achieved this status through careful management of her gender identity and by creating rich, readable, and authoritative accounts of science that were rhetorically compelling, aesthetically satisfying, and valuable to the scientific community in the UK and abroad. This biography offers detailed analysis of the underlying patterns, themes, and rhetorical strategies of her major works and argues that Somerville employed a transcendent feminine style that retained the advantages but transcended the limitations usually associated with women's ways of knowing. The book advocates a new narrative for women's participation in science and demonstrates the many ways that gender relates to science and science functions in culture.

    • Includes and discusses the significance of previously unpublished portions of Somerville's autobiography
    • Illustrates the fascinating process by which Somerville's life and career were committed to historical memory
    • Treats Somerville's life as both distinctive and as an illustration of larger trends
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Kathryn Neeley explores Somerville's unique position: she was accepted as an eminent scientist, but also celebrated for the way she conformed to Victorian norms of womanly behaviour.' The Lancet

    'Underneath the now statutory feminist gloss this is a work of great scholarship.' Contemporary Review

    'Neeley's study repays careful reading and is a valuable contribution to studies of discourse, writing and gender in nineteenth-century science.' BJHS

    'Neeley has provided scholars with an absorbing and definitive intellectual biography of Mary Somerville, arguably the most important woman in science during the nineteenth-century … In sum, Neeley's book is a welcome addition to the growing bodies of scholarship re-interpreting the role of women in science, examining the relationship between science and literature, and exploring the importance of popular science.' Centauras

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2001
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521626729
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Author's preface
    Perceiving what others do not perceive: the 'peculiar illumination' of the female mind
    1. Head among the stars, feet firm upon the earth: the problem of categorizing Mary Somerville
    2. Creating a room of her own in the world of science: how Mary Fairfax became the famous Mrs Somerville
    3. Science as exact calculation and elevated meditation: Mechanism of the Heavens (1931), Preliminary Dissertation (1832), and On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1834)
    4. The earth, the sea, the air, and their inhabitants: Physical Geography (1848) and On Molecular and Microscopic Science (1869)
    5. Personal Recollections (1973): Mary Somerville on Mary Somerville
    6. Memory and Mary Somerville: in the public eye and historical memory
    Epilogue: science, voice, and vision.

  • Author

    Kathryn A. Neeley, University of Virginia

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.