Sunday, August 5, 2007
Margaret Cavendish (1624-1674)
[W]e are shut out of all power and authority, by reason we are never employed either in civil or martial affairs, our counsels are despised, and laughed at, the best of our actions are trodden down with scorn, by the over-weening conceit, men have of themselves, and through a despisement of us. - from Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1655)
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Writer on Natural Philosophy. Cavendish received no special scientific education as a child but was nevertheless keenly interested in science. While living in Paris in exile during the British civil war (1642) she met and married William Cavendish. He was interested in mathematics and science but it was to his brother, Charles, to whom Margaret turned to help develop her scientific interests. In Paris she became part of an intellectual scientific movement known as atomism. She was interested in medicine and was known to treat herself. She produced no original science but was a popularizer of science and did correspond with some of the influential natural philosophers of her day. Despite the scandal her writing life caused, she eventually brought out thirteen books, ranging from Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, the first book of poetry published by a woman under her own name, to Blazing World, the first science fiction by a woman.
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