Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Women in Science BlogDay

Apparently, according to that bastion of the free press, the Metro, it is today that bloggers are writing about famous women scientists. Now that I have done a meme and am on the way to being a bloggette, I thought I too would do my bit for women scientists. I have even found one who knitted.

I hope that Mr John Beaver of Lake Afton Public Observatory won't mind me taking inspiration from his piece on Carolyn Herschel (1750-1848), German Comet Discoverer Extraordinaire and singer, where he mentions that she knitted 'two years worth of stockings' so as to be free to come to England in the wake of her brother, composer and conductor:

"Meanwhile, her favorite brother William, who had moved to Bath, England, quickly established himself as a composer and conductor. But in his success he had not forgotten his unhappy sister left behind in Germany, and he proposed to have Carolyn come to England to train as a soprano. The mother and eldest brother had grown used to Carolyn's housework, and they would not, at first, let her go. ". . . and I was left in the harrassing uncertainty whether I was to go or not!" In order to cover both possibilities she knitted two years worth of stockings, while at every opportunity "when all were from home" she practiced voice "with a gag between my teeth."

So the first woman in history to discover a comet began her career as a singer. And she achieved no little success; she performed regularly with her brother's orchestra and even began to receive invitations to perform with other orchestras in other cities."

So, thanks to Mr Beaver for the stockings, but another author describes the scientific successes of Carolyn H, and quotes her various medals and honours from across Europe.

Either way, she sounds a suitably feisty character who today would no doubt be promoting knitting with all the vigour it deserves.


Penny said...

Oh, what a clever choice. You've managed a post that includes knitting, but is still on topic for women in science.

This site has a list of some of the other blogs who posted about women in science/technology on Tuesday.

Katie M. said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing. I wonder just how many stockings make up "two year's worth". An intimidating thought.