Royal Society History of Science Friday lunchtime lectures

The following lectures in our Autumn 2012 programme may be of interest to BSLS members:

Friday 28 September, 1pm

Prof. Sharon Ruston

Natural History and the Rights of Woman

During the two-year period of the composition and publication of her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of Mary Shelley and early advocate of women’s rights, read and reviewed a number of important works of natural history for a periodical called the Analytical Review. Wollstonecraft is not known for her interest in science but in this talk I show that reading these texts helped her to formulate her feminist theory. Close attention to her reviews of natural history reveal her developing thought on issues of equality, education, and what it means to be human. On a more general note,Wollstonecraft’s reviews show that in the late eighteenth century, people were aware of the political purpose of scientific writings.

Friday 12 October, 1pm

Professor George Rousseau, University of Oxford

The Notorious Sir John Hill: Georgian Celebrity Science and Attacks on the Royal Society

No man in Georgian England ever attacked the Royal Society more savagely than Sir John Hill (1714-1775), and no one in his era was more notorious for public scandal. This talk sketches Hill's multi-faceted life and assesses his attacks on the Royal Society and the changes they effected. George Rousseau's biography, the first ever written of this curious figure, has just appeared in America and will be on display during the lecture.

Friday 19 October, 1pm

Dr Clemency Fisher

The zoological world of Edward Lear

Edward Lear is most famous for his Nonsense Rhymes, such as “The Owl and the Pussycat” and “The Quangle Wangle’s Hat”, but he was also a talented zoological artist and described several new species of birds. As part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of Lear’s birth in 1812, Dr Fisher will explore Lear’s time working as an artist and tutor for the 13th Earl of Derby’s family at Knowsley Hall, near Liverpool. Lear used some of the birds and mammals in Lord Derby’s aviary and menagerie as models for his paintings and many of these individuals are now in the collections of National Museums Liverpool. Several are the types on which new species were based. A current project, shared by NML and the Western Australian Museum, is the unravelling of a knotty problem with the nomenclature of Baudin’s Cockatoo, which Lear described in 1832.

See the Royal Society events listings for further details -