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Jane Marcet

MARCET, Jane, née Haldimand, Swiss/British science-writer, 1769-1858. After becoming the head of the family at the age of 15, and studying art later, Jane married Alexander Marcet (a Swiss physician and chemist, who later became an FRS). Her interests changed and she studied chemistry as a pupil of Humphrey Davy. In 1805 she published 2 volumes of ‘Conversations in Chemistry; Intended More Specifically for the Female Sex’. The books had quite a novel format, laid out as conversations between a teacher and two young girl pupils. There were also illustrations of simple experiments. An apprentice bookbinder called Michael Faraday became fascinated by her lesson on electrochemistry, and he later became one of the great physical chemists. Altogether, 16 editions were printed for British and American readers. In 1824 she wrote ‘Conversations on Natural Philosophy’, followed in 1829 by ‘Conversations on Vegetable Physiology’. Until 1858 she continued writing books designed for women who were mothers to read and so be able to better inform their children on science. Jane’s books were widely read. Two of her last books were on the subject of law and politics/government, rather more adult topics but they were popular. In 1816, ‘Conversations on Political Economy’, and in 1836 ‘Willy’s Holidays: or Conversations on Different Kinds of Government’. A most inventive approach to literature and teaching science.

Science Writer

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