By Jane Haldimand Marcet
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:2010
Online Publication Date:November 2011
Original Publication Year:1817
Subjects: Physical chemistry , Chemistry: general interest
Jane Haldimand Marcet (1769–1858) was a pioneer in the field of education who wrote accessible introductory books on science and economics. Noting that women's education 'is seldom calculated to prepare their minds for abstract ideas', she resolved to write books that would inform, entertain and improve a generation of female readers. First published anonymously in 1805, her two-volume Conversations on Chemistry swiftly became a standard primer going through sixteen editions in England alone, and is credited with having influenced the young Michael Faraday. Presented as a series of discussions between a fictional tutor, Mrs. Bryan, and her two female students, the flighty Caroline and earnest Emily, Conversations combines entertaining banter with a clear and concise explanation of scientific theories of the day. Volume 2 contains spirited exchanges on topics including 'shells and chalk', borax, decomposing vegetables and 'animal economy', which will interest historians of both science and education.