The Human Touch of Chemistry was created with the idea of making chemistry easy to understand, and great fun too. But even we were surprised to know that Mrs. Jane Marcet had just the same idea - 206 years ago!
Conversations on Chemistry
Jane Marcet lived in England in the 19th century. In those days, women were not allowed to pursue scientific research as a profession, because men thought they were not smart enough. But they were allowed to attend lectures on science.
Sir Humphry Davy was a scientist and the head of the Royal Institution in London. He used to give a lecture every Christmas, to which the general public was invited. Mrs. Marcet liked to attend these lectures along with her husband Alexander Marcet, a doctor.
Once she was reading the proofs of her husband's books, when she had the idea of writing her own. Buy writing a book that made chemistry easy to understand, she could help people in other parts of Britain who could not travel to London to listen to lectures. Her book was published in 1805, with the name Conversations on Chemistry. She had to publish it without her name, for women were not supposed to write such books. Nevertheless, the book became very popular, and was reprinted 16 times.
The famous scientist Michael Faraday learned about Chemistry from Jane Marcet's book. He was so impressed that he travelled to the Royal Institution looking for a job. In time, he would go on to become the head of that place.
Life and Legacy
Jane Marcet was born on 1st January, 1769 in London. Her father was a wealthy banker, who arranged private tuitions for her at home, because women couldn't go to school those days. In 1799, she married the doctor Alexander Marcet.
She was very interested in writing books that made difficult topics easy to understand. All her books were written as a conversation between two schoolgirls called Caroline and Emily and their teacher, Mrs. Bryant. Conversations on Chemistry was so popular that Jane Marcet wrote more books on botany, natural philosophy and political economy. Many eminent men didn't like these books, but they were popular among the public. Mrs. Marcet always believed that education was a worthy cause, and women should not be ignorant of important subjects.
Many writers have followed her example, writing books that made difficult subjects easy to understand. In turn, that helped more people become better educated. As we celebrate the International Year of Chemistry, we pay tribute to Jane Marcet, who has been an inspiration to us!