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Summary Article: Marcet , Jane, née Haldimand (1769 - 1858) from The Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists

Jane Haldimand was born in London to Swiss parents, and married the Swiss physician Alexander Marcet (1770 - 1822), whose interest was in chemistry. They made their friends among the London scientific circle; Berzelius was a frequent visitor to their home. Jane Marcet inherited a large fortune from her father, which enabled her husband to give up his post at Guy’s Hospital and devote his time to experimental chemistry; he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. She attended the public lectures at the Royal Institution given by Humphry Davy, but found she needed further explanation and gained this in conversations with ‘a friend’. Her most successful book was Conversations on Chemistry, published anonymously in 1805 to assist others to understand scientific discussions; chemistry was advancing rapidly during the early 19th-c. It was presented in the form of a discussion between the teacher, Mrs Bryan, and two attentive pupils, the more serious Emily, and Caroline, who enjoyed spectacular experiments. The work was an immediate success, and went into 16 editions, each corrected and updated with the latest discoveries and their applications. The book was also widely sold in the USA. A copy of Conversations on Chemistry was left at the bookbinder where Faraday was an apprentice, and he credited Jane Marcet’s book with the start of his interest in chemistry.

David Millar, Ian Millar, John Millar, Margaret Millar 1996, 2002

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