Jane Marcet (1769-1858)

Jane Marcet

*January 1, 1769 (London, United Kingdom)
†Juni 28, 1858 (London, United Kingdom)

Jane Marcet was a British author and educationalist who played an important role in popularizing science education and advocating for women’s rights. She was born Jane Haldimand in London, England, to Swiss parents. Her family was well-connected, and she received a good education at home, studying French, German, and Italian, as well as mathematics, natural philosophy, and chemistry.

In 1799, she married Alexander Marcet, a Swiss physician and chemist, and the couple moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where they became involved in the city’s intellectual and scientific circles. In Geneva, Marcet began to write and publish educational works, including “Conversations on Political Economy,” which was based on her discussions with leading economists of the time.

Marcet was also involved in social and political causes, particularly advocating for the education and rights of women. She was a founding member of the Ladies’ Literary Society in London, which provided a forum for women to discuss literature and science, and she supported the suffrage movement and the abolition of slavery.

After her husband’s death in 1822, Marcet returned to England and continued to write and publish educational works. She died in 1858 at the age of 88, having left a lasting legacy as a pioneer of science education and a champion of women’s rights.



Conversations on Chemistry” is Jane Marcet’s most famous work. The book is written in a dialogue format, in which a teacher, Mrs. Bryan, engages in conversations about chemistry with two female students, Caroline and Emily. The book was intended to make the study of chemistry accessible and interesting to a wider audience, particularly women.

The conversations cover a wide range of topics related to chemistry, including the nature of matter, chemical reactions, and the properties of different elements and compounds. Marcet used simple, everyday language and relatable examples to explain complex scientific concepts. For example, in one conversation, the teacher explains the principles of combustion by comparing the process to a candle burning. In another conversation, the teacher uses the example of the rusting of iron to explain the concept of oxidation.

The book was groundbreaking in its approach, using everyday language and examples to explain complex scientific concepts. It became widely popular and was translated into several languages, including French, German, and Russian. The book went through many editions, with revisions and updates reflecting new scientific discoveries and developments.

“Conversations on Chemistry” was written at a time when the study of science was not widely available to women, and the book was intended to provide a means for women to learn about and engage with science. The book played an important role in popularizing science education and advocating for women’s rights.



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