Two women worthy of gracing the new £50 note | Letters

Mary Somerville and Caroline Herschel would both be fitting choices, writes Gerard Gilligan

With regard to the suggestion of who should appear on the new £50 note (Editorial, 6 November), may I suggest Mary Somerville (1780-1872), a self-taught mathematician and polymath, an early campaigner for women’s rights and the vote. Her book On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences became one of the bestselling science books of the 19th century. The word scientist was first used in a review of her book.

There is also Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), who was with her better known brother William when he discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. She became the world’s first professional astronomer, with her salary being provided by King George III. Following the production of a catalogue of astronomical nebulae, she became the first woman to be awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s gold medal in 1828. She was also an accomplished comet hunter.
Gerard Gilligan
Chairman of The Society for the History of Astronomy

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