SOMERVILLE, Mary (1780–1872), science writer & mathematics expositor. ALS to Edward Romilly 1830s


SOMERVILLE, Mary (1780–1872), science writer & mathematics expositor. ALS to Edward Romilly 1830s

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SOMERVILLE, Mary (1780–1872), science writer and mathematics expositor. Autograph letter signed to Edward Romilly Esq, 2 sides with integral blank leaf, 8vo, R.H. Chelsea 17th June [no date, paper watermark 1833], sending her condolences to Mrs Romilly "we were too well acquainted with the object of her regret not to feel deeply for her on the loss of an only sister", and adding that she has "not written to Mrs Marcet because I feared to intrude so soon in the freshness of her sorrow but I anxiously long to hear how her health has stood the suddenness and severity of the shock". The letter comes with copies of genealogical and biographical information.


Mary Somerville [née Fairfax; other married name Greig] was an immensely successful scientific writer widely recognized in her own time. Born and brought up in Scotland she came into contact with influential individuals in Edinburgh's social and intellectual circles who helped her develop her interest and studies in mathematics. In 1816 she moved with her family to London  where she developed further friendships within scientific circles. Immediately upon settling in London she met the popular scientific writer Jane Haldimand Marcet (1769-1858) who was undoubtedly to inspire Mary's own ambitions to popularise science.

Jane (Mrs Marcet in the letter) had married the physician Alexander Marcet (1770-1822) in 1799, by whom she had three children, Francis born 1803, Louisa born 1807 and Sophia born 1809. Sophia (Mrs Romilly in the letter) married in 1830 Edward Romilly (1804-1870), a magistrate, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Chairman of the Board of Audit and well known cricketer. Sophia's sister Louisa married Eugene De la Hive in London in 1828, and it is Louisa's death that is the subject of this letter.

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